Some Aspects of Advanced Technologies and Signal Integrity Issues in High Frequency PCBs, with Emphasis on Planar Transmission Lines and RF/Microwave Filters

University dissertation from Stockholm : KTH

Abstract: The main focus of this thesis is placed on high frequency PCB signal Integrity Is-sues and RF/Microwave filters using EBG structures.From the signal Integrity aspect, two topics were mainly discussed. On one hand, the effect of increasing frequency on classical design rules for crosstalk reduction in PCBs was investigated experimentally and by full-wave simulations. An emphasis was placed on the 3×W spacing rule and the use of guard traces. Single-ended and differential transmission lines were considered. S-parameter measurements and simu-lations were carried out at high-frequency (up to 20 GHz). The results emphasize the necessity to reevaluate traditional design rules for their suitability in high frequency applications. Also, the impacts of using guard traces for high frequency crosstalk re-duction were clearly pointed out. On the other hand, the effect of high loss PCB ma-terials on the signal transmission characteristics of microstrip lines at high frequency (up to 20 GHz) was treated. Comparative studies were carried out on different micro-strip configurations using standard FR4 substrate and a high frequency dielectric ma-terial from Rogers, Corporation. The experimental results highlight the dramatic im-pact of high dielectric loss materials (FR4 and solder mask) and magnetic plating metal (nickel) on the high frequency signal attenuation and loss of microstrip trans-mission lines.Besides, the epoxy-based SU8 photoresist was characterized at high frequency (up to 50 GHz) using on-wafer conductor-backed coplanar waveguide transmission lines. A relative dielectric constant of 3.2 was obtained at 30 GHz. Some issues related to the processing of this material, such as cracks, hard-skin, etc, were also discussed.Regarding RF/Microwave filters, the concept of Electromagnetic Band Gap (EBG) was used to design and fabricate novel microstrip bandstop filters using periodically modified substrate. The proposed EBG structures, which don’t suffer conductor backing issues, exhibit interesting frequency response characteristics.The limitations of modeling and simulation tools in terms of speed and accuracy are also examined in this thesis. Experiments and simulations were carried out show-ing the inadequacies of the Spice diode model for the simulations in power electronics. Also, an Artificial Neural Network (ANN) model was proposed as an alternative and a complement to full-wave solvers, for a quick and sufficiently accurate simulation of interconnects. A software implementation of this model using Matlab’s ANN toolbox was shown to considerably reduce (by over 800 times) the simulation time of microstrip lines using full-wave solvers such as Ansoft’s HFSS and CST’s MWS.Finally, a novel cooling structure using a double heatsink for high performance electronics was presented. Methods for optimizing this structure were also discussed.