Applications like networking and communications require high frequency Printed Circuit Boards (PCBs). When organizations from these sectors approach PCB manufacturers to come up with a solution, manufacturers recommend Radio Frequency (RF) or microwave PCBs. There are various reasons why PCB manufacturers suggest these PCB assemblies for networking and communication applications. Let’s take a look at some basic points.
Understanding RF and Microwave PCBs
These PCBs are designed to operate on medium and extremely high frequencies (megahertz and gigahertz). They need to be constructed using high quality materials. These include:
- Rogers RO laminates
- High Performance FR-4
- Ceramic filled hydrocarbon
- PTFE with woven or micro glass fibers
The materials comprise specific characteristics, such as low loss tangent, low dielectric constant (Er), and excellent Co-efficient of Thermal Expansion (CTE).
The Advantages of RF and Microwave PCBs
The design of these PCB assemblies for networking and communications using high frequency materials provide a variety of benefits to MHz and GHz applications.
- The low loss tangent and stable Er allows high frequency signals to travel through the PCB at fast rates, and with less impedance.
- The materials can be combined in the multilayer board stack-up, which ensures reduced PCB assembly costs, along with optimal PCB performance.
- The PCB structure is extremely stable in high temperature environments. If used in analog applications, these PCBs can operate at 40 GHz.
- Fine pitch components can be placed onto the board effectively without too much trouble.
- Due to the use of low CTE materials, it is easier for a PCB engineer to align multiple board layers in complex layouts.
These design features and benefits make RF and microwave PCBs ideal for applications such as telecommunications, military radar, cellular phones, and computer networking systems. Hence, it is always advisable to enquire about these PCBs when contacting a circuit board manufacturer about PCB assemblies for networking and communication applications.