Ceramic printed circuit boards (PCBs) have a ceramic base material made up of highly thermally conductive materials, including alumina, aluminum nitride, and beryllium oxide. They can quickly move heat away from hot regions and dissipate it throughout the entire surface. LAM technology, or laser rapid activation metallization, is used to create ceramic PCBs. As a result ceramic PCBs are extremely adaptable and may replace a complete standard printed circuit board with a simpler structure and improved performance.
The term “ceramic” refers to a group of materials with chemical structures and physical qualities that are similar. Ceramic printed circuit boards have proven instrumental in the creation of smaller electronic devices. These boards have a low coefficient of expansion and a high thermal conductivity. This makes ceramic PCBs less complicated and more versatile than standard PCBs.
Types of Ceramic Printed Circuit Boards
The ceramic PCBs are classified into three types based on the manufacturing process.
- High Temperature Ceramic PCB
- Low Temperature Ceramic PCB
- Thick Film Ceramic PCB
High Temperature Ceramic Printed Circuit Boards
This type of PCB is designed for high temperatures and is sometimes referred to as a high temperature co-fired ceramic (HTCC) circuit. These circuit boards are manufactured in a unique manner. To create new ceramics the process combines solvent, plasticizer, adhesive, aluminum oxide, and lubricant.
Once the new ceramic has been developed, it is coated, and circuit tracing on molybdenum or tungsten metals is applied. Following this, the circuits will be baked between 1600 and 1700 degrees Celsius for approximately 48 hours after lamination. The baking will take place in a specific gaseous environment that will include hydrogen gas.
Low Temperature Ceramic Printed Circuit Boards
This type of PCB is designed for low temperatures and is sometimes referred to as a low temperature co-fired ceramic (LTTC) circuit. The low-temperature ceramic PCB manufacturing process differs from the high-temperature or HTCC type. The adhesive substance and crystal glass are used to make the low-temperature ceramic PCB. Both of these materials are applied to a metal sheet with gold paste. Following this, the board will be cut and laminated. Finally, the circuit will be kept at 900 degrees Celsius in a gaseous oven.
The low-temperature ceramic PCB has better shrink tolerance and less warpage. In summary, LTTC will have higher thermal conductivity and mechanical intensity than other types, including HTCCs. The thermal advantage of the low-temperature PCB makes it preferable when working with heat-free products such as LED lights.
Thick Film Ceramic Printed Circuit Boards
Manufacturing this type of PCB involves the coating of dielectric and gold pastes on the ceramic base material. After applying both of these pastes, the material will be baked at 1000 degrees Celsius or lower. The thick film ceramic is preferred because it keeps the copper from oxidizing. As a result, a ceramic PCB manufacturer can use interchangeable conductors, semiconductors, conductors, electric capacitors, and resistors on the ceramic board. When manufacturers are concerned about oxidation, they select this type. The conductor layer of this type of PCB may be thicker than 10 microns but not thicker than 13 microns.
Advantages of Ceramic Printed Circuit Boards
Because of the numerous advantages, a ceramic PCB is regarded as the best option for various applications. Here are some advantages that make ceramic PCBs a preferred choice.
- High Thermal Expansion: Ceramic PCBs have a high thermal coefficient of expansion. Even at high temperatures, ceramic PCBs have a high thermal conductivity and are an excellent choice for a wide range of devices.
- High Pressure: Ceramic PCBs are extremely adaptable and work successfully even under extreme pressure. Ceramic circuit boards are ideal for heavy-duty applications.
- High Insulation: Ceramic is also extremely insulating meaning heat will be less likely to pass through the substrate protecting the components of the circuit board from damage.
- High Temperature: Even in extreme weather and temperature, ceramic remains workable offering increased durability and dependability in a variety of industries.
- High Frequency: Ceramic has a high frequency and may be used in industries such as aerospace and medical that require the high-frequency transmission of data and electrical signals.
- Cost Efficient: Ceramic PCBs improve performance while reducing fabrication and design complexity. Therefore, ceramic boards are less expensive compared to metal (Cu/AL) core PCBs.
Comparison of Ceramic PCB with FR4
The most commonly used board material, FR4, is compared to ceramic multilayer board in several critical categories in the table below.
|Thermal Conductivity (Wm-K)||28 – 280||0.8 – 1.1|
|Coefficient of Thermal Expansion (CTE)||Component Comparable||Component Comparable|
|Frequency Performance||High||Low – Mid|
|Cost||Mid – High||Low – Mid|
Applications of Ceramic PCBs
Ceramic PCBs are preferred for various applications due to their low chemical erosion resistance, or CTE, low dielectric constant, and high thermal conductivity. Following are some applications of ceramic PCBs:
- Memory module
- Chip-on-board module
- High-power circuits
- High-accuracy clock oscillator, VCXOs, TCXOs, OCXOs
- Solid state relay (SSR)
- Solar panel arrays
- Transmission/Receiving module
- Multi-layer interconnect board
- Analog/Digital PCB
- Automotive light system
- Solar cell
- Telecom device
- Semiconductor process equipment
- Street, high bright light
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