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Highlighting The Strengths Of Hermetically Sealed Ceramic Packages



In an increasingly globalized economy where supply chains span multiple continents and communications must be transmittable virtually anywhere and at any time, the margin for error regarding various mission-critical procedures narrows to a minuscule breadth. Electricity occupies a position at the heart of the matter in so many of these situations, and the machinery and systems it powers often require a chain reaction of flawless processes to function at optimal levels.

The microelectronic components responsible for these steps thus need a level of protection that only a hermetic seal can provide. This demand fuels the robust market for hermetic packaging, valued at $3.06 billion in 2017 and projected to exceed $4.5 billion by 2023, according to a MarketsandMarkets report.

AMETEK ECP stands out as a premier designer and manufacturer of hermetically sealed ceramic packages, recognizing their value and devoting considerable resources toward ensuring their high performance. Today, we'll explore some of the historical factors that led to the development of these components, their current role in multiple verticals and the success of AMETEK in their creation.

A brief history of hermetics

The word "hermetic" is itself an homage to polytheistic Greek mythology. As for the use of hermetics as containment devices for health care, military and aerospace purposes, this dates back to the late 1960s. Engineers at the time recognized the extreme sensitivity of the microelectronic parts they had begun using in satellites, aircraft and spacecraft guidance systems, and medical technologies (specifically Class III devices, such as pacemakers), and they knew that an airtight seal would be the best way to protect product integrity in this context.

Flashing forward to today, the need for hermetic seals in delicate electronics and mechanics hasn't changed - but the methods and parts used have been subject to a considerable number of advances. AMETEK and its affiliated brands have been at the cutting edge of the development that produced such advancements, which range from the design of custom alloys to withstand extreme operating environments to the pioneering of better ceramic assemblies to create an impervious seal.

Surpassing the hermetic limits of glass

Early hermetics involved glass, usually in the form of glass-to-metal seals, and these components still make up a notable portion of the AMETEK product catalog. But in the organization's desire to remain at the vanguard of industrial development, AMETEK began incorporating ceramics into the creation process of microelectronic packages. This shift stemmed from the advantages ceramics showed over glass in a variety of situations.

For one, high-temperature cofired ceramic (HTCC) coverings and feedthroughs won't crack under pressures reaching tens of thousands of pounds per square inch, in sub-zero temperatures or when exposed to heat exceeding 100 degrees Celsius. Glass can retain integrity under those conditions up to a point, but will always break when hitting certain thresholds - limits that are no trouble for ceramics. Environments featuring high voltages, a high presence of sodium or other corrosive elements also won't be a problem for microelectronics that are protected by ceramic packaging.

Meeting modern hermeticity standards

The industries that AMETEK's products serve have evolved considerably since our business began several decades ago, and the conditions in which these sectors' systems must function without incident have concurrently become more extreme. As just one example, offshore oil operations are drilling deeper than ever before, and the equipment that provides readings of undersea geography, detects petroleum deposits and collects other essential data cannot be at risk of failure under the extreme pressures encountered at such depths.

In response to this and many other situations with sensitive operating environments, the standards to which hermetic products must adhere have grown more stringent, and AMETEK personnel adjusted designs accordingly as needed. Let's take a look at a few of these requirements and how our hermetically sealed designs meet or exceed them:
  • Ceramic packages from AMETEK boast a strong hermeticity validation figure - 1 x 10-13 cc per second of helium at 1 atmosphere differential pressure. The expected standard is 1 x 10-11 cc/sec.
  • The packages are also equipped to remain insulated against up to 10 gigaohms of electrical resistance at 500 volts of direct current. Sheer voltage resistance tests out at 6,000 VDC/VAC.
  • In certain contexts, our hermetics can withstand pressures as high as 35,000 psi with temperatures simultaneously as great as 525 degrees Fahrenheit. At ambient temperature (between 68 and 77 degrees), this resistance climbs to 40,000 psi. 

Reliability in the face of environmental hazards

AMETEK's hermetically sealed ceramic packages find themselves deployed across a wide variety of different harsh working situations. Whether tens of thousands of feet below the surface of the ocean, deep underground, in proximity to extreme heat or cold, or subjected to the pressures within the atmosphere or even higher above the earth in planetary orbit, these packages and their associated components prevent the intrusion of:
  • Dirt, grime and other organic matter in the ground.
  • Water and humidity.
  • Fire or other kinds of high heat.
  • Impedance from other electrical sources. 

Supporting some of the world's most vital processes

When society at large is in a state of geopolitical uncertainty, defense and communications systems around the world will be working overtime. Though the latter is certainly the medium we hope eventually triumphs, the former will undoubtedly be in various preparatory stages should its capabilities become necessary.

Hermetically sealed HTCC ceramic packages produced by AMETEK provide the protection necessary for these technologies to work without interruption and remain at a state of operational readiness no matter what. Systems within these verticals supported by hermetically guarded components include surveillance, infrared targeting, navigation, motion sensors, SAT COM and radio-frequency amplifiers, to name just a few.

Medical imaging and monitoring devices, as well as defibrillators and the aforementioned pacemaker, also employ HTCCs and other similarly sealed ceramics to ensure their functionality even in the hectic context of a major city hospital. Meanwhile, integrated circuits, semiconductors, power converters, motor controls and numerous industrial devices reliant on microelectronics will require the protection of these packages, further proving the globe-spanning and multifaceted benefits offered by hermetic seals.

Sources:

Why Use Hermetics?

Hermetic Packaging Market by Configuration (Multilayer Ceramic Packages, Metal Can Packages, Pressed Ceramic Packages), Type (Ceramic-Metal Sealing, Glass-Metal Sealing), Application, Industry, and Geography - Global Forecast to 2023  (Publishing Date: February 2018)


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