Are Soy PCBs Good for Your Health?

File under surreal.

A pair of University of Delaware researchers have developed a way to fabricate a low-Dk substrate made from soy.

Yes, soy.

Mingjiang Zhan and Richard P. Wool, who are part of the chemical engineering department of the University of Delaware, started with biobased resin acrylated epoxidized soybean oil (AESO), which they crosslinked with divinylbenzene (DVB) or chemically modified by phthalic anhydride. The DVB-crosslinked resins had a 14° to 24°C increase in their glass-transition temperatures (Tg), which was dependent on the crosslink densities. Tg increased linearly as the crosslink density increased. Phthalated acrylated epoxidized soybean oil (PAESO) had an 18 to 30% improvement in the modulus. The dielectric constants and loss tangents of both DVB-crosslinked AESO and PAESO were lower than conventional dielectrics used for printed circuit boards (PCBs).

The results, the researchers say, suggest that the new biobased resins with lower carbon dioxide footprint are potential replacements for commercial petroleum-based dielectric materials for PCBs.

Their work will be published next month in the Journal of Applied Polymer Chemistry. (It was published online in July.)

By the way, this isn’t Wool’s only attempt to trick nature. As part of another project, he is trying to carbonized chicken feathers so they can store hydrogen for fuel-cell vehicles.

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About Mike

Mike Buetow is president of the Printed Circuit Engineering Association ( He previously was editor-in-chief of Circuits Assembly magazine, the leading publication for electronics manufacturing, and PCD&F, the leading publication for printed circuit design and fabrication. He spent 21 years as vice president and editorial director of UP Media Group, for which he oversaw all editorial and production aspects. He has more than 30 years' experience in the electronics industry, including six years at IPC, an electronics trade association, at which he was a technical projects manager and communications director. He has also held editorial positions at SMT Magazine, community newspapers and in book publishing. He is a graduate of the University of Illinois. Follow Mike on Twitter: @mikebuetow