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09/08/2019

PFAS in the Electronics Industry

From helping smartphones to be smaller to protecting the screens we touch, materials known as fluoropolymers and fluorochemicals are clearly helpful for electronics. But their use goes beyond smartphones, making them important for increases in computing power and the emerging use of 5G and AI technologies. In short, fluoropolymers and fluorochemicals have helped advance modern electronics.

Fluoropolymers and fluorochemicals have multiple qualities that make them valuable in several electronics applications, from producing semiconductors to helping cool data centers for cloud computing.

When it comes to the manufacturing of electronics, especially semiconductors, a study by PlasticsEurope, an association of plastics manufacturers, notes fluoropolymers can offer:

  • Protection for manufacturing equipment – pipes, valves and pumps – against the harsh etching process.
  • Chemical and contamination resistance.
  • High abrasion, stress-crack and cut-through resistance of the components.

When used with electronics, fluorochemicals can offer:

  • Moisture, pollution and chemical resistance as component coatings.
  • Excellent heat transfer properties in semiconductor processing.
  • Solvent cleaning for precision components.

The benefits for electronics manufacturers can mean a reduction in manufacturing costs and higher production yields due to longer-lived equipment, and electronics products can also have increased reliability and lifetimes due to protection from contaminants.

With the resulting components going into everyday items like smart phones, appliances and cars, the benefit provided by fluorochemicals and fluoropolymers reaches all the way to the consumer. The most noticeable is the small size of our devices – due to smaller, but still powerful, microprocessors – and their increased reliability that can be achieved in a variety of environments. According to a 2016 statement by the World Semiconductor Council, no known “drop-in” alternatives to these currently exist, making the use of fluoropolymers and fluorochemicals important in many electronics applications.

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