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Quantum Leap Packaging -- Liquid Crystal Polymer Packaging
Founded: Dec 2002
Status: Private
Issue(s): 12/03, 1/0
200 Research Drive
Wilmington, MA 01887
Tel: 978/658-7711
Fax: 978/658-2444

Quantum Leap Packaging, a spin-off of Ixion Technologies, was formed in December 2002 to develop electronic component packaging utilizing a proprietary Liquid Crystal Polymer (LCP) compound. The company received $3.5 million in Series A financing from Battery Ventures. In December 2004, Quantum Leap closed a $6.5 million Series B round of funding led by Battery Ventures and including private investors. In addition, Comerica Bank committed $2.5M in debt financing to support expansion of Quantum Leapís manufacturing operations. The company plans to seek additional capital in late 2005 or early 2006 and anticipated breakeven in 2006. The companyís original startup team of four has grown to 30 employees.

When semiconductor, microwave, optical and medical devices require improved thermal performance, increased electrical performance and precision molding, or fall into the category of MEMS, specialized component packaging is required. However, Quantum Leap argues that there has been little innovation in the high performance packaging field. Todayís solutions simply consist of traditional ceramic and metal component packaging.

To address this market opportunity, Quantum Leap has developed a patented Liquid Crystal Polymer (LCP) material as a replacement for the more costly and traditional ceramic and metal component packaging. Other key areas of innovation include package design and lid sealing technology. LCP packages can be manufactured by injection molding technology, which provides several advantages, including extremely fast cycle time, high levels of automation and efficient utilization of substrates.

Quantum Leapís liquid crystal polymer technology, called LCPh, will withstand temperatures of over 400įC and is three times as tough as conventional LCPs. Tests show that LCP has higher reliability than todayís standard materials such as metal and ceramic. Injection moldable LCP features lower dielectric constant and loss properties than ceramic and epoxies, which results in better high frequency performance. It experiences slow outgassing and has lower moisture absorption than convention (OCN) and biphenyl epoxies providing higher reliability. It also has lower mold shrinkage than epoxies. LCP does not go through a glass transition temperature, supporting better dimensional stability than typical overmolded epoxies.

The combination of its high temperature, low weight and low flammability characteristics, together with its low cost allow LCPh to address a variety of applications where conventional polymers could never be considered. When used as a packaging replacement for traditional metal or ceramic materials, Quantum Leapís LCP material system delivers multiple benefits such as accelerated cycle time, high levels of automation and significant cost reduction with no sacrifice to performance. Target applications include semiconductors, medical, optical devices, RF-Microwave, LDMOS, vision and MEMS either in hermetic or non-hermetic configurations.

Quantum Leapís LCP material, when utilized in their proprietary molding process, supports high temperature applications while adding mil-spec hermeticity to plastic air cavity packages, which is claimed to be an industry first. Lids can be attached conventionally with B stage epoxy or using Quantum Leapís UltraSeal for stronger seals, better barriers and shorter manufacturing times. Ultraseal technology produces a hermetic seal in less than two seconds, a marked improvement over the one-hour cure cycle required by epoxy. The Ultraseal process is stronger than epoxy methods, eliminating the problem of epoxy flow and out-gassing, which can adversely affect reliability.

With LCP, the degree and direction of the Coefficient of Thermal Expansion (CTE) can be very tightly controlled, ensuring mechanical stability. Furthermore, the CTE can be tailored to match more efficient heat sink alloys, resulting in a significant improvement in heat dissipation and MTTF of the total assembly. The use of copper versus copper tungsten or alloy 42 allows improved electrical and thermal performance.

The structural properties of LCP make it possible to mold complex packages with thin walls while holding extremely tight tolerances, enabling the insert molding of ďair cavityĒ packaging for applications such as vision packaging, LDMOS, Saw devices, Oscillators, RF wireless and MEMS. The thin wall construction provides more area inside the air cavity package for the active and passive components, while maintaining the industry standard footprints common to ceramic and metal packages. With availability in strip form, LCP RF power packages facilitate automated assembly, further lowing costs.

The initial application for LCPh is semiconductor and electronics packaging, where the need for high temperature eutectic soldering, mechanical robustness and dimension stability demanded the use of inorganic packaging materials such as metal or ceramic. Key application areas include RF, MEMS, and vision, where air cavities are required. However, LCPh has application far beyond this, solving many of the cost/performance packaging challenges facing industries such as automotive, food processing, medical and aerospace. For the medical imaging market, the company offers photo-diode substrates and anti-scatter plate modules, although this is a minor portion of the companyís business.

The company is currently shipping limited production volume and has prototypes at numerous potential customers for evaluation. An Asian manufacturing strategy should be formalized by the end of Q1í05, and the company has recently added a Japanese representative to support business development efforts.

James LaCasse, CEO (previously president of Sumika Electronic Materials, the US electronic materials subsidiary of Sumitomo Chemical and VP & GM for Global Business at Olin/Arch Chemicals)

Mike Zimmerman, Ph.D., Founder, CTO & President (Associate Professor of Mechanical Engineering at Tufts University. Previously a Consulting Member of Technical Staff at Bell Labs.)

Martin Riegel, CFO & Treasurer/Secretary (previously CFO at Trebia)

Eric Leonard, VP of Sales (previously held sales management experience at ChipPac, Amkor and Dusan Equipment)

Donald Welling, Manager of Manufacturing (previously held manufacturing and quality management positions at Lucent, Microtouch Systems and Lutron Electronics)

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