To examine the impact of oxide and oxide alternative processes on signal loss in commercial RF applications.
Stripline conductors were formed using traditional oxide, oxide dissolution/reduction, and oxide alternative processes. Conductor geometry was measured and surface topography was characterized. Effective dielectric constants and characteristic impedance for each system was determined. Finally, line loss for each treatment and rework condition was charted to nearly 20 GHz. Electrical measurements were performed by taking S‐parameter measurements through 20 GHz using an agilent vector network analyzer (VNA).
The methods employed were sufficient to statistically characterize the increased loss associated with thick oxides and high‐microetch oxide alternatives. Lower etch oxide alternatives yielded benefits for signal integrity. Of importance, rework procedures gave unacceptable increases in line loss. Overall, however, the loss due to innerlayer bonding processes was not of sufficient magnitude to elevate oxides as a primary contributor to conductor loss. For the relative simple, high production system employing epoxy substrate, oxide loss was found to be far less than substrate effects, imaging quality, and foil treatment.
Electrical engineers and printed circuit board (PCB) designers strive to focus their efforts on improving the PCB processes leading to maximum conductor loss in the electronic system. This work shows that oxide treatments are not a primary factor in affecting loss. Significant improvements in signal integrity may be achieved, however, with the use of low‐etch oxide alternatives and with restrictions on oxide rework. In addition, this paper allowed for new interpretations of VNA data for better modeling of PCB system data using non‐classical analysis.
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