The Superconducting Circuit Board

    What is a Superconducting Circuit Trace? How is it different from a typical Copper Trace on a PCB?

     

    A circuit trace is a conducting track on a printed circuit board that connects components electrically and allows electric current to flow with little resistance.

    While this small resistance is inconsequential for most applications, there are applications where the heat dissipated due to this small resistance is a big problem.

    Much like how normal conducting trace allows current to flow, they also allow heat to flow from higher temperature areas to areas of lower temperature.

    Aluminum-Trace (very low temperature) Printed Circuit Board Innovation

    The journey to develop a circuit board which features aluminum circuitry (Aluminum PCBs ) has been challenging.

    Beginning in 2008, Omni Circuit boards was challenged by a strategic partner with developing a circuit board with fine-line aluminum traces. The reason for aluminum in the initial quest was for its superconducting (cryogenic) properties. But as time went by, we began to appreciate how developing this capability could also benefit customers who have a requirement for aluminum wire bonding of critical components and non-magnetic properties.

    Why Omni Circuit Boards Ltd was the First Printed Circuit Board Manufacturer to Produce an Aluminum-Trace (very low temperature, superconductive, cryogenic) PCB

    Today's computing technology is rapidly outpacing the capabilities of standard, mass-produced printed circuit boards. 

     

    That's why it was no surprise when the engineers at British Columbia based D-Wave Systems came to us looking for a unique product.

    Measuring and Calculating the Resistance of Aluminum Trace (very low temperature) Printed Circuit Boards

    Measuring resistance of a fine-line Aluminum Trace provides different challenges compared to traces on a Copper PCB, most importantly, the surface aluminum oxide is tenacious and it can be difficult to get through to arrive at an accurate and repeatable measurement.

    Development of Very Low Temperature Printed Circuit Boards (Aluminum Trace, Superconductive, Cryogenic PCBs)

    Mid 2011 was the beginning of the collaboration between Omni Circuit Boards and D-Wave Systems to produce superconducting, low temperature printed circuit boards (PCBs)

    Development was driven by D-Wave’s need for low temperature PCBs which could provide mono-metal superconductive connection to their unique quantum processors (QPUs).

    The PCBs would operate at cryogenic low-temperature, be solderable and be suitable for wire-bonding. The PCB would also withstand multiple temperature cycling from below 500 Millikelvin to 20°C.

    Quantum Computer Developer Chooses Omni as Superconductive Printed Circuit Board Manufacturer

    The technical expertise needed to build the world's first commercial quantum computer is immense.

    D-Wave Systems Inc. turned to Omni Circuit Boards to help them build the first "Superconductive Aluminum-Trace Printed Circuit Boards" that serves as interface with their QPUs (quantum processing units)

    The next generation of Printed Circuit Boards - Developments in Aluminum-Trace (very low temperature) PCBs

    As you might expect, no two applications for aluminum trace circuit boards are the same and most often they are not even similar.

    While some customers are investigating frontiers in MEMS (Microelectromechanical systems), others are delving into the inherent superconductive properties at milliKelvin temperatures, while still others are exploiting the radiation response characteristics of aluminum. For the R&D personnel at Omni Circuit Boards, the requests have presented some interesting challenges.

    UBC and Omni awarded Engage Grant by NSERC

    Vancouver, BC, January 7, 2015 University of British Columbia Department of Materials Engineering and Omni Circuit Boards have been awarded an Engage Grant (EG) through the National Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada.

    Omni Circuit Boards Ltd signs R&D agreement with D-Wave Systems to fabricate their Aluminum Trace (very low temperature) PCBs.

    Vancouver, BC, January 13, 2015—

    Omni Circuit Boards Ltd. 

    announced today the signing of a research and development agreement with D-Wave Systems Inc., the first commercial quantum computing company, in support of the further advanc ement of aluminum trace printed circuit boards (Al-PCB) for quantum computing applications.

    Omni's Printed Circuit Al-Trace PCB on the cover of Time magazine

     

    PHOTOGRAPH BY GREGG SEGAL FOR TIME