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Electro-chemicals Protect the Reliability and Performance of IoT Connectivity

Protection for the exposed electronics/components can be afforded in the form of encapsulation resins, thermal management solutions or conformal coatings.

Jade Bridges
Jade Bridges, Technical Manager at Electrolube (A division of MacDermid Alpha Electronics Solutions)

IoT, otherwise known as the Internet of Things, is a platform enabling embedded devices connected to the internet, to collect and exchange data with each other. Devices can begin to interact and work with each other, even learning from each other’s experience as humans do. The potential for the IoT and connectivity is endless, as everyday objects can connect and share intelligence and knowledge. Some current examples deploying IoT include one of the earliest examples of this technology, wearable technology, which has now extended vastly to encompass the healthcare sector, sports, athletics and even implantables. Some other areas where IoT applications are experiencing rapid growth include the Smart Home, Health Care, Smart Cities, Smart Grids, Agriculture, connectivity within vehicles and Industrial Automation.

The rapid rise of the IoT revolution is leveraging sensor usage to a whole new level. Sensors are devices that detect and respond to changes in an environment with inputs from a variety of sources such as light, temperature, motion and pressure. To facilitate efficient use in a broad mix of enduse environments, particularly harsh environments, sensors need to be protected to ensure reliability and performance especially within the remit of critical applications such as hazardous gas detection. For instance, a temperature sensor on a static device will have to withstand the temperatures within that immediate environment and any thermal shock or cycling that may take place. As an example, let’s look at a temperature sensor as part of a wearable device. It has the added consideration of physical interactions; the device will be moved, worn, will receive impact, will be flexed and will potentially be exposed to a number of additional elements, such as water or chemicals. Therefore, it is imperative that these devices are protected sufficiently to ensure reliable performance when utilised in their end-use environments.

Protection for the exposed electronics/components can be afforded in the form of encapsulation resins, thermal management solutions or conformal coatings. The sheer number of variables within different applications can also generate another challenge and that is to select the most suitable protection compound. IoT devices collate and transfer data, whether it be direct to another device or system or via a sensor to record changes in information gathered. This connection to other devices may operate via radio waves and consequently any protection compound used, must allow RF signals to be transmitted without any interference. In addition to this, the environmental conditions and general use of the device must be considered to produce a full picture of its working life. Electrolube has recently provided a solution for a customer who required protection for a container of sensors, which is used for analysing the status of industrial machinery to prevent field failures within many different environments and sectors, such as petrochemical, food processing and offshore platforms. The box of sensors is required to communicate with a server to update the information held, reporting back to phones and tablets. This ultimately allows for predictive maintenance selection and scheduled downtime for maintenance rather than failures.

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