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Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory Introduces Printed Circuit Boards with Solderless Board-to-Board Interconnects for Flexible, Low-Cost Designs

By on March 17, 2022 0

Invention opens the door for electrical device manufacturers to develop cost-effective printed circuit boards for use in sensing devices as well as automotive, aerospace, defense and energy applications

BERKELEY, Calif., March 17, 2022–(BUSINESS WIRE)–Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (Berkeley Lab) has developed a compact, robust, and inexpensive method for interconnecting printed circuit boards (PCBs) without the need for soldering or additional components. These narrow board-in-board connectors can handle higher voltages and mechanical stress than currently available miniature connector technologies. Multiple boards can be connected in a variety of shapes, including 3D shapes. The potential uses are vast, ranging from vital aeronautical electronics to thin sensor probes. This technology is now available under license.

This new PCB with board-in-board interconnectors:

  • relies on established, low-cost PCB fabrication techniques

  • is inexpensive compared to pin connector alternatives

  • does not require soldering

  • is easily customizable in 3D shapes

  • offers opportunities in high stress applications or where devices are subject to vibration, and

  • can withstand high voltages.

Conventional board-to-board connectors can be a significant cost to devices. They often require soldering, and the connection is often fragile in environments with mechanical stress and vibration. Press fit connectors for high stress environments do not require soldering but can be expensive.

This new method produces PCBs that are fashioned into a narrow, pencil-like 5mm format, with each end of the board containing an array of angled slots respectively, or a series of miniature jaw-like pins with barbed teeth that interlock two PCBs. together. Angled slots create a spring-loading mechanism that eliminates the need for PCB soldering and ensures robust connections that resist vibration.

The user or engineer can connect these PCBs in a variety of shapes, including stacked vertically, run sequentially in series, or connected at different angles to create 3D shapes.

“This new kind of PCB interconnects opens up a world of design opportunities for electronics,” said Berkeley Lab earth and environmental science researcher Stijn Wielandt. “The solid locking mechanism means simple assembly and less breakage in applications that produce mechanical stress or vibration on printed circuit boards. The compact size also allows for use in 3D components.”

As the contacts are spaced apart along the length of the board, the connector can also withstand higher voltages, which opens up opportunities in the field of power electronics, for example in the field of solar energy, battery packs batteries and motor control.

For more information on licensing this technology, contact [email protected]

Founded in 1931 on the belief that the greatest scientific challenges are best met by teams, Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory and its scientists have been awarded 14 Nobel Prizes. Today, Berkeley Lab researchers are developing sustainable energy and environmental solutions, creating useful new materials, pushing the boundaries of computing, and probing the mysteries of life, matter, and the universe. Scientists around the world rely on the laboratory’s facilities for their own scientific discovery. Berkeley Lab is a multi-program national laboratory, operated by the University of California for the US Department of Energy’s Office of Science.

DOE Office of Science is the largest supporter of basic physical science research in the United States and strives to address some of the most pressing challenges of our time.

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Ruby Barcklay, [email protected]; 1.415.486.4306