Printed Circuit Boards (PCBs) changed the electronic manufacturing market for good with the introduction of a dynamic approach to these configurations. The flexibility and configurability of PCBs allow for real-time modifications where needed.
Ceramic PCB substrates have also come into the fold with remarkable changes. Today, these substrates are compared to FR4, especially in terms of the thermal conductivity and improved performance.
In this article, you will learn more about the functions of the ceramic PCB substrate, the components and its advantages.
What is Ceramic PCB Substrate?
It is a type of Printed Circuit Board (PCB) manufactured with ceramics as the base material. The board also comprises a variety of highly thermally-conducive materials, ranging from beryllium oxide, alumina, and aluminum nitride.
The structure or architecture of the ceramic PCB substrate is done in such a way that copper foil is pasted or directly bonded to the surface of the board either through the single side or the double side.
For this to work, the engineer needs to use a higher temperature or thermal conductivity. The bonding is done via the core components or types, including Alumina, Silicon Carbide, Beryllium Oxide and Aluminum Nitride.
Classifications of Ceramic PCB Substrates by the Materials
Generally, ceramic PCB substrates are classified either by the type of materials used or the temperature requirements and other forms of specifications.
Let us start by classifying these Printed Circuit Boards (PCBs) based on the type of materials used in the configurations.
1. Aluminum Oxide
It is also known by other names, including Alumina and AI203. The role of the Aluminum Oxide base material is to provide the board with higher electrical, thermal and mechanical properties. The Aluminum Oxide also offers multiple layers, which come in handy for different kinds of circuit board designs.
Examples of the supported PCB layers are:
- Base Layer: As the name suggests, this is the “base” or primary layer of the ceramic PCB substrate. It comprises either the aluminum metal substrate or copper.
- Circuit Layer: The circuit layer in a ceramic PCB substrate is the layer that uses a copper up to 10 oz in thickness.
- Insulating Layer: This can best be described as the layer that provides “insulation” or aids in heat dissipation in the circuit board. The insulating layer’s properties include an electrically and thermally conductive material.
2. Beryllium Oxide
This type of material comes in handy when working on applications or devices requiring higher thermal conductivity. Typically, the Beryllium Oxide or BeO witnesses a sharp drop in the temperature, down to 300-degree Celsius.
3. Aluminum Nitride
Also known as AIN, Aluminum Nitride is the ceramic PCB substrate material that helps in expanding the coefficient of the matching Si, while improving the thermal conductivity of the board.
The Aluminum Nitride ceramic PCB substrate material also has some potential downsides, which could force some consumers to seek an alternative. First, the material is pricey and second, the high thermal conductivity can have negative effects for circuit boards with thinner layers or board estate.
Benefits of Working with the Ceramic PCB Substrate
Despite the seemingly huge disadvantages posed by some of the materials, using a ceramic PCB substrate can be worth the investment.
These are some of the reasons why circuit board consumers prefer working with it.
No matter the targeted applications or use cases, you can be confident that the ceramic PCB substrate will match the needs. The improved or higher thermal conductivity or temperature helps to fit it into a wide range of applications.
Fireproof for Device Protection
Due to the higher thermal conductivity, this circuit board typically will be used in high-end devices. When it comes to the device or board protection, it is top-notch, thanks to the fireproof design.
The combination of different properties helps to forestall excessive heat on the targeted devices. For example, the thin layer on the board’s surface protects the conductive traces from bulging (cracking) after being overly exposed to excessive heat. The layer also offers double device protection in the form of preventing (excessive) heat from getting into the board.
On the other hand, heat conduction is well-managed, thereby, reducing the chances of excessive heat dissipation in the first place.
Ceramic PCBs have Higher Frequencies
These circuit boards have a higher frequency, which is one of the major reasons why they are prioritized when building high-end devices. For example, we can find more medical equipment and airplane systems manufactured with the ceramic PCB substrate because of the higher/speedy transmission of electrical signals and data.
The Circuit Boards are Durable
Looking for a Printed Circuit Board (PCB) that packs improved performance and durability in the same board? The ceramic PCB substrate is the one.
The durability of the board is enhanced by the absence of epoxy glass materials. Thus, you can expect the board to be more rigid and durable than a circuit board made from epoxy glass would have.
Less Susceptibility to Damages
It is no news that some applications or devices made from circuit boards get damaged after a while. That doesn’t appear to be one of the downsides of the ceramic PCB substrate, as the board has reinforced the susceptibility to damages.
For emphasis, a ceramic PCB substrate leverages its minimal flex to function effectively for high-end applications, especially the ones requiring more heat dissipation.
Ceramic PCB Substrates by the Manufacturing Process
The process of manufacturing the ceramic PCB substrate is also another way to look at the board’s functions.
Here are the common manufacturing techniques:
- High-Temperature Ceramic PCBs: This type of ceramic PCB substrates operates in high-value temperature conditions. They also combine multiple processes, ranging from lubricant, solvent and adhesive.
- Low-Temperature Co-Fired Ceramic PCBs: Also known as LTTC, it uses lower temperature values and offers higher levels of mechanical strength.
- Thick Film Ceramic Circuit Boards: This type of ceramic PCB substrates implements the dielectric plates and gold paste on the ceramic base material. The baking is as high as 1,000-degree Celsius and the overall design is to prevent the copper material from going through oxidization.
Ceramic PCB substrate helps to improve the performance of the targeted applications by offering a higher temperature conductivity. Rayming Technology (RayPCB) will help you optimize the board for the best results. Contact us today!