High-Performance Laminates

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For the purpose of this column, high-performance laminates are characterized as base materials that in one or more aspects exceed the performance of FR-4, CEM, or paper/phenolic laminates. The focus, however, is on low loss (Df), low Dk dielectric resin-based CCLs and prepregs. Included are laminates that distinguish themselves through higher Tg, better chemical stability, better dimensional stability, or some other performance factor. Polyimide-based flex laminates are covered briefly. Requirements for dielectrics specifically developed for HDI boards or flip chip packages, such as dielectric films for microvia build-up layers, laser-drillable prepregs, and various forms of RCC for rigid cores, are briefly mentioned to contrast these requirements to high-performance CCLs for second level packaging.

Market Overview—Applications

The applications for high-performance laminates are quite diverse and evolving rapidly. Low Dk and/or Df are common performance requirements in addition to many others that are shared with various applications. The high-performance laminate applications include:

• Cellular base station infrastructure (e.g., base station power amplifiers)

• LNBs (low-noise block down-converters)

• Cavity PCBs

• HF antennas

• High-speed digital backplanes

• High-speed routers

• High-speed servers

• High-speed test PCBs

• RF and HF microwave boards and modules

• High-speed chip packages

• Optoelectronic devices

• Satellite TV infrastructure

• Automotive collision avoidance systems

The automotive collision avoidance applications appear to be the highest frequency application at 40 GHz and above (current state-of-the-art radar chip systems, 77 GHz), and have a very high growth rate. It also demands dielectrics with very low loss.

Following is a list of commercial high-performance laminate constructions/compositions, as provided by the manufacturers:

• Woven E-glass/PPO

• BT/epoxy

• Woven E-glass/high-speed, low-loss epoxy

• Woven SI-glass, APPE thermoset resin

• Woven E-glass, ceramic filled thermoset hydrocarbon (polybutadiene)

• Woven SI-glass/high-speed, low-loss epoxy

• Woven glass, ceramic filled PTFE

• Woven glass, ceramic filled thermoset

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Editor's Note: This article originally appeared in the January 2016 issue of The PCB Magazine.


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