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Explain the importance of high frequency PCBs – the most comprehensive introduction

 

Almost all of the electrical and electronic devices that we use in current era have printed circuit boards or PCBs. Few of such electronic devices are subtle while others gain a great attention. However, either the devices are silently monitoring status of health, or utilized in smartphones have an integral part i.e., PCBs.

These days high frequency PCB has been in use in almost every industry such as aerospace, automotive, biomedical, commercial, and military applications etc. In the recent years, the utilization of high frequency PCB has grown for keeping the enhanced demands in novel, faster, and complex circuits used for different applications in various industries. However, the way such high frequency PCB is created is of great importance along with understanding its different design constraints and requirements.

This article deals with the relevant information that one should know before starting to design high frequency PCB.

What does PCB mean?

The Printed Circuit Board is also known as PCB is basically an electronic circuitry that is utilized in almost every electrical and electronic device to deliver mechanical support along providing the path of current for the components. PCB is made through a combination of various sheets of materials that are non-conducting like plastic or fiberglass that are easily holding the copper circuitry. PCB is also sometimes referred to as Etched Wiring Board (EWB) and Printed Wiring Board (PWB).

What is the frequency in PCB?

The wireless network is the field in which electronic devices having high frequency are utilized in the current scenario. With the advancements and development made in satellite communication, the information products and gadgets are moving towards higher frequency and higher speed. Thus, there is a requirement for the development of novel products that need the utilization of higher frequency substrate, base stations for receiving signals, satellite systems, etc. having the high-frequency PCB.

high-frequency PCB in electronics

What are the three types of PCBs?

The high-frequency PCBs are widely utilized in applications that are involving the transmission of special signals among different objects. Such PCB are available in the higher range of frequencies ranging from 500Mhz up to 2GHz. The high frequency PCBs are capable of transmitting electromagnetic waves with minimum losses. Specific and dedicated material is utilized in the preparation of high frequency PCB.

Such PCB have the feature of faster signal flow rates. The range of frequency is over 100GHz. Such PCB are offering lower levels of thermal expansion, and lower DK and DF values.

What are high-frequency PCBs?

There are three major types of PCB discussed in the proceeding paragraphs.

Single layer PCB

The single-layered PCB are the low-cost and simplest possible boards. Such PCB have only one substrate layer of fiberglass and a single layer of conducting material i.e. copper. The holes for the electronic components to be installed on the board are not plated through. The electronic components layout is single-layered too and its conducting path is on the side beneath the components.

Double layer PCB

The double-layered PCB are having only a single layer of substrate base; however, the conductive path i.e., copper is on both sides of the substrate. The solder mask is supposed to be applied on both sides of the board. The holes for electronic components to be installed overboard are supposed to be plated through for conductivity on the circuits.

The conductive holes of the board are allowing the circuits on one of its sides to that of the other side of the circuit. The components are soldered on both sides of the board. The through-hole components are mounted as surface-mounted components. Surface mount technology is utilized for soldering the surface-mounted components.

double layer PCB

Multi-layer PCB

The multi-layered PCB are having more than two layers. Such PCB must compose of a minimum of three layers of conduction such as copper. The entire layers of the board are interconnected with plated holes of copper.

The multi-layered PCB can have a maximum of 40 layers depending on the application. All of its passive and active components are assembled at the top and bottom of the board. All of the inner layers of the board are serving for routing. Surface mount technology is utilized for soldering the surface-mounted components onto the board.

multi-layer PCB

What are high-frequency materials?

While making the design of PCB at frequencies of micro-wave level, the major characteristic that demonstrates the circuit’s laminate performance for the RF and microwave PCB comprises Dk is also known as dielectric constant, Df also known as dissipation factor, thermal conductivity, TCDk also known as the thermal coefficient of dielectric constant, and CTE also known as the coefficient of thermal expansion.

PTFE (polytetrafluoroethylene) is one of the familiar high-frequency materials to the users of PCB which is a synthetic thermoplastic fluoropolymer having fantastic properties of the dielectric at the frequencies of microwave range.

Design of high frequency PCB

The high frequency PCB have majorly one purpose of transmitting and receiving signals of the higher frequency range. Two antennas are embedded in the circuit board as a signal receiver and transmitter of radio signals. The circuit of the high frequency is generating the radio frequency waves and is evaluating the reflected waves. Whereas, the entire RF system is supposed to be on the front side of the printed circuit board.

The high frequency PCB are also having a digital circuit for the evaluation of the radio frequency signals and are installed over the back side of the board.

high frequency PCB

What is the high-speed signal in PCB ? How do you make a high-speed PCB?

For the purpose of simplification, the design of high-speed printed circuit boards is such a design in which the integrity of the signals initiates and is affected through the physical characteristics of the printed circuit board such as the interconnections of components, packaging, layout, etc.

The high-speed PCB design and its layout is having a prime focus on the creation of the design of circuit board that has lower susceptibility to the integrity of signals, EMC/EMI problems, and its integrity concerning power.

It is a matter of fact that none of the designs of high-frequency printed circuit boards is free from problems; however, after following the proper methodology and design guidelines, one can avoid the occurrence of problems and get a perfect high frequency PCB.

What is a high-temperature circuit?

The high-temperature circuit board is conventionally considered as the board having the Tg or glass transition temperature of over 170oC. The higher temperature PCB are supposed to follow a very simple and straightforward rule for a continuous thermal load having a temperature of around -25oC for its operation beneath the value of Tg.

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