Millimeter-wave circuits were once considered exotic and only used for specialized applications, typically in the military space. For one thing, frequencies with such small wavelengths, from about 30 to 300 GHz, required special components and circuits scaled to those diminutive wavelengths. But lower-frequency bands are being consumed by a growing number of wireless applications, and millimeter-wave frequency bands are looking more and more attractive for communications systems of the future. Achieving millimeter-wave circuit designs on reliable printed-circuit-board (PCB) materials in a practical manner will be the challenge in making these higher frequencies affordable. Substrate-integrated-waveguide (SIW) circuit technology may just be the solution.
The choice of plated finish can make a real difference in a PCB’s conductive loss, especially for broadband, high-frequency circuits. To better understand the loss performance of different plated finishes, various transmission lines were fabricated on different circuit laminates and different plated finishes applied.
Microstrip edge-coupled bandpass filters (BPFs) can help clean the spectrum around a desired center frequency. Fabricated on printed-circuit-board (PCB) materials, these compact filters can be integrated with other circuit functions to provide dependable filtering of communications bands and high-frequency signals for a wide range of applications.
Circuit designers must often select a circuit technology, such as microstrip or grounded coplanar waveguide (GCPW) circuitry, with a particular design and circuit material to achieve optimum performance. Circuit technologies, such as microstrip and GCPW, each have their strengths and weaknesses, and it may help to take a closer look at these two circuit technologies in particular to see how they stack up.
Circuit performance may start with the choice of printed-circuit-board (PCB) material, but achieving a desired level of circuit performance can also have a great deal to do with how circuits are fabricated on a chosen PCB material.
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High-frequency circuit designers must often consider the performance limits, physical dimensions, and even the power levels of a particular design when deciding upon an optimum printed-circuit-board (PCB) material for that design. But the choice of transmission-line technology, such as microstrip or grounded coplanar waveguide (GCPW) circuitry, can also influence the final performance expected from a design. Many designers may be familiar with the stark differences between high-frequency microstrip and stripline circuitry.
Power amplifier design at RF/microwave frequencies can be aided by a wise choice of active devices, such as discrete transistors or monolithic microwave integrated circuits (MMICs). But don’t overlook the importance of the printed-circuit-board (PCB) material when planning for a solid-state power amplifier (PA) circuit. The circuit material can help or hurt a PA design, and knowing what is important in a PCB material intended for a PA is the first step in selecting a circuit material that enhances the PA’s performance.
Phase noise has long been a key parameter in high-frequency components, such as oscillators and frequency synthesizers, and high-frequency systems, such as radar and communications receivers. The choice of PCB material can contribute a great deal to the ultimate single-sideband (SSB) phase-noise performance possible from a circuit design. Understanding the key PCB material parameters that relate to phase noise can help when specifying a circuit laminate for the “quietest” phase noise possible for a given frequency.
Circuit design engineers have long relied upon the basic physics of printed-circuit boards (PCBs) and how capacitors and inductors can be formed from simple patterns and structures on a PCB. A number of PCB material traits, in particular the consistency of the dielectric constant, can go a long way towards achieving consistent and reliable PCB capacitors and inductors especially at RF and microwave frequencies.