US Patent 8,187,006 Flexible Magnetic Interconnects

Abstract

A flexible magnetic interconnect is disclosed. In one embodiment, an apparatus includes a module having a recess therein. A magnetic structure is moveable within the recess and a flexible circuit cooperates with the module to retain the magnetic structure within the recess. Movement of the magnetic structure is caused by magnetic attraction between the magnetic structure and an external magnetic structure. The flexible circuit includes a compliant contact, which changes shape by movement of the magnetic structure.

Claims

1. A system comprising:

a first module including a first magnetic structure and a flexible circuit comprising a compliant contact that has a shape that is changed by movement of the first magnetic structure, wherein the first magnetic structure is moveable within the first module;

a second module including a second magnetic structure and a circuit, wherein a magnetic attraction between the first magnetic structure and the second magnetic structure creates movement of the first magnetic structure and causes the compliant contact of the first module to change shape.

2. The system of claim 1, wherein the magnetic attraction holds the flexible circuit of the first module and the circuit of the second module in mechanical contact with one another.

3. The system of claim 2, wherein an electrical connection is formed between the flexible circuit of the first module and the circuit of the second module.

4. The system of claim 3, wherein the electrical connection is maintained as the first module and second module are moved relative to one another.

5. The system of claim 4, wherein at least one of the flexible circuit of the first module and the circuit of the second module changes shape as the first module and the second module are moved relative to one another.

6. The system of claim 3, wherein at least one of the first magnetic structure

and the second magnetic structure does not conduct electricity as part of the electrical connection.

7. The system of claim 1, wherein the second magnetic structure is moveable within the second module, wherein the circuit of the second module comprises a flexible circuit, and wherein the magnetic attraction between the first magnetic structure and the second magnetic structure causes the flexible circuit of the second module to change shape.

8. The system of claim 3 further comprising:

a third module including a third magnetic structure and a flexible circuit, wherein a magnetic attraction between the third magnetic structure and at least one of the first magnetic structure and second magnetic structure holds the flexible circuit of the third magnetic structure in contact with at least one of the flexible circuit of the first module and the circuit of the second module.

9. The system of claim 8, wherein an electrical connection is formed between the flexible circuit of the third module and at least one of the flexible circuit of the first module and the circuit of the second module.

10. The system of claim 1, wherein, upon sufficiently separating the first module and the second module, the first flexible circuit returns to its original shape.

11. The system of claim 3, wherein the electrical connection is maintained as the first module and second module are moved relative to one another.

12. The system of claim 11, wherein the compliant contact changes shape as the first module and the second module are moved relative to one another.

13. The system of claim 3 further comprising:

a third module including a third magnetic structure and a flexible circuit, wherein a magnetic attraction between the third magnetic structure and at least one of the first magnetic structure and second magnetic structure holds the flexible circuit of the third magnetic structure in contact with at least one of the flexible circuit of the first module and the circuit of the second module.

14. The system of claim 13, wherein an electrical connection is formed between the flexible circuit of the third module and at least one of the flexible circuit of the first module and the circuit of the second module.

15. The system of claim 1, wherein the first magnetic structure is attached to the flexible circuit.

16. The system of claim 1, wherein the compliant contact has a Hertzian contact stress profile and wherein the magnetic structure has a shape that contributes to the Hertzian contact stress profile.

17. The system of claim 1, wherein the first magnetic structure is in direct contact with the flexible circuit.

18. The system of claim 1, wherein the flexible circuit is at least partially recessed below a surface of the first module.

19. The system of claim 18, in which the compliant contact of the first module changes shape to extend beyond the surface of the first module under the magnetic attraction.

20. The system of claim 1 in which the flexible circuit comprises more than one compliant contact.

21. The system of claim 20 in which up to 3 compliant contacts in the first module are associated with the moveable magnetic structure.

22. The system of claim 1 in which the compliant contact comprises asperities or other conducting structures on the surface of the contact.

23. The system of claim 3 in which the magnetic attraction is less than about 160 grams for each electrical connection formed.

24. A method comprising the steps of:

providing a first module including a first magnetic structure and a first flexible circuit comprising a compliant contact that has a shape that is changed by movement of the first magnetic structure, wherein the first magnetic structure is moveable within the first module;

applying a magnetic force, thereby causing the first magnetic structure to move and the compliant contact to change shape.

25. The method of claim 24 wherein the shape change of the compliant contact comprises a permanent deformation.

26. The method of claim 24 in which the magnetic force is applied by moving the first module towards a magnetic structure in a second module along a first path.

27. The method of claim 26 in which an electrical connection is formed between the compliant contact of the first module and an electrical circuit of the second module.

28. The method of claim 27 further comprising breaking the electrical connection by removing the second module along a second path that is different from the first path.