Humidity Robustness of Plasma-Coated PCBs

Aliakbar Khangholi*, Feng Li, Kamila Piotrowska, Samir Loulidi, Rajan Ambat, Guy Van Assche, Annick Hubin, Iris De Graeve

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articleResearchpeer-review


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.
Original languageEnglish
JournalJournal of Electronic Materials
Issue number1
Pages (from-to)848-860
Publication statusPublished - 2020


  • Plasma coatings
  • Corrosion
  • Climatic conditions
  • Water uptake


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