Humidity Robustness of Plasma-Coated PCBs

  • Aliakbar KhangholiEmail author
  • Feng Li
  • Kamila Piotrowska
  • Samir Loulidi
  • Rajan Ambat
  • Guy Van Assche
  • Annick Hubin
  • Iris De Graeve


The reliability of printed circuit boards (PCB) is at risk due to continuous miniaturization. As a result, PCBs are more susceptible to external factors such as humidity, temperature, contamination, etc., which affect their general performance, leading to failure of electronic devices. Therefore, protection of the devices against these factors is gaining greatly in importance. Plasma polymerization is used as a method to form a protective barrier by applying plasma polymer films on PCBs. However, the humidity robustness of such plasma coatings on the PCB surface is unknown. In this work, several methods were used to characterize two types of plasma-coated PCBs based on 1H,1H,2H-perfluorodecyl acrylate precursor (single-layer and stacked coatings) upon exposure to humidity, temperature, and bias voltage. Modulated-temperature differential scanning calorimetry enabled thermal analysis of the plasma coatings. Electrochemical impedance spectroscopy in combination with the gravimetric moisture vapor sorption technique were used to study the interaction of these coatings with moisture and quantify the water uptake. The results revealed an only 2% increase of the capacitance of the coatings due to water uptake. Direct-current (DC) leakage current measurements were used to study the influence of a bias voltage applied between the electrodes on the coated PCBs upon exposure to cyclic climatic conditions. Electrical DC testing revealed the protective character of the stacked coating, which did not fail under the given stress conditions, in contrast to the single-layer plasma coatings.


Plasma coatings corrosion climatic conditions water uptake 


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The research is funded by Vlaams Agentschap Innoveren en Ondernemen (VLAIO). Europlasma NV is acknowledged for fabrication of samples and funding. The authors would like to thank Celcorr group (DTU) for collaboration and the opportunity to carry out this work.

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflicts of interest.


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Copyright information

© The Minerals, Metals & Materials Society 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Research Group of Electrochemical and Surface Engineering (SURF), Department of Materials and ChemistryVrije Universiteit BrusselBrusselsBelgium
  2. 2.Materials and Surface Engineering, Department of Mechanical EngineeringTechnical University of DenmarkKgs. LyngbyDenmark
  3. 3.Europlasma NVOudenaardeBelgium

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