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News Archive 2001 - 2010

UTA Researchers Seek Ways to Reduce Electronics' Toxic Wastes

December 14, 2001

Some consumer products contain environmentally significant amounts of lead because their electronics circuits use lead-based solder connections. Many of these products are designed to be cast aside and replaced following their use rather than be repaired, resulting in an increase in the presence of toxins in dumps and landfills. Two researchers in the University of Texas at Arlington's College of Engineering are studying lead substitutes that will reduce toxic wastes while maintaining current manufacturing processes.

Materials Science and Engineering Professor Choong-Un Kim and Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering Professor Dereje Agonafer, working in UTA's Electronics Packaging Center, are beginning a two-year study on the materials characterization of new solder alloys that are replacing lead in electronic consumables. The use of alloys has been limited, however, because information on their properties is largely unknown, making it extremely difficult to create a reliable product. This project will investigate the changes in the chemical and mechanical properties of the new solder alloys when they are applied to manufacturing processes.

"The application of lead-free solder is becoming increasingly important," said Kim, the lead investigator in the project. "Cell phones, for example, need to meet very stringent safety protections against all possible hazards. Our investigations will allow consumer electronics manufacturers to increase the use of lead-free solders in their products, with greater confidence in achieving reliability and longevity." This study is one of several currently underway in the Electronics Packaging Center in association with several electronics manufacturers.