Low Temperature Co-fired Ceramics

New for March 2010! LTCC is one topic on our career killers page!

Click here to go to our co-fired ceramics page

Click here to go to high-temperature co-fired ceramics (LTCC) page

LTCC surely has its place in microwave circuit manufacturing. But it is often looked upon as the answer to the question, "how am I going to cram even more microwave circuitry into this tiny volume?" And that is where the troubles begin. And this is why LTCC appears on our career-killers page.

LTCC has been used heavily since the 1990s. This technology combines many thin layers of ceramic and conductors resulting in a versatile mix of microstrip, stripline and three-dimensional interconnects, making possible a whole mess of designs that are not practical on regular alumina or most soft substrates.

Hey, somebody send us some pictures of an LTCC product please!


Manufacturing LTCC

Prior to forming the layers, the ceramic/glass frit is held together with a binder and formed into a sheet which is delivered in a roll. In the "green" state, this material is known as "green tape", which is actually a trademark of Dupont. Check out Jim L.'s poem, "Ode to Green Tape"!

Holes are punched into the layers where vertical interconnects are required, and conductors are screened onto the layers to form horizontal interconnects such as groundplanes and striplines. This is very similar to the thick-film process. In some applications, resistors are formed. Resistors buried on internal layers cannot be laser trimmed, so their accuracy is on the order of 20%.

The tape layers are then stacked up on some alignment pins and compressed to drive out air pockets. Then the tape is fired in an oven. The temperature/time profile is very important in ensuring a quality product.

During firing, the binder is driven from the material and the glass frit melts and joins the layers. Because the resulting structure is part glass/part alumina, its relative dielectric constant is somewhere in between, often around 6.0. The process of firing the part shrinks all of its dimensions. One of the most critical parameters to using LTCC is the shrinkage tolerance, or how accurate and repeatable the parts shrink from one to the next. Shrinkage depends not on just the bulk properties of the substrate, but on how much metal you load it with as well.

The fired panel can go though one more metalization step if necessary. Then the panel is diced.


Author : Unknown Editor