SBIR Phase II: High Surface Area Tantalum Powder for Capacitor Applications

Period of Performance: 01/01/2003 - 12/31/2003


Phase 1 SBIR

Recipient Firm

AP Materials
4041 Forest Park Ave,
St. Louis, MO 63108
Principal Investigator


This Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) Phase II project will scale-up a new technology for producing high-surface area tantalum powders for the electronic capacitor industry. The existing technology is over 30 years old and cannot keep pace with the needs of smaller electronics, which require tantalum particles in the nanometer size range. In addition, environmental factors are driving the industry away from the fluorinated precursors that are presently used to make tantalum. The proposed technology employs the Sodium Flame Encapsulation (SFE) technology to address this problem by producing nano-tantalum powders encapsulated in sodium chloride. In-situ encapsulation allows for control of morphology and prevents oxidation of the nano-tantalum by air or moisture. The technology has been shown to produce state-of-the-art capacitor materials with an environmentally-friendly process. Nonetheless, the present process is a two step process involving post-processing of the nanopowders into the agglomerated structure needed by capacitor manufacturers. This program will specifically develop the flame technology so that the post-processing step is unnecessary. In this way powders can be produced with the appropriate morphology such that they only need to be washed and re-encapsulated to be a drop in replacement for existing materials. The results will be a less expensive, higher efficiency, higher surface area material that is produced by a green technology. Commercially, this technology will enable smaller, more versatile electronics by ensuring that the tantalum capacitor industry can continue to reduce its package size in line with the rest of the industry.