### Application Note

MIC Technology
Vishay Electro-Films
Applications of High Conductivity
Traces in Thin Film Substrates
INTRODUCTION
Vishay MIC Technology’s High conductivity processes have
brought a significant contribution to the thin film world by
enabling high current low resistance circuits to coexist with
microwave transmission lines and structures. The purpose
of this paper is to review the details behind this capability
and the resulting advantages to the circuit designer.
High
Conductivity
Trace
STEP 1: CALCULATING TRACE RESISTANCE
The typical thin film metal system such as titanium-tungsten/
gold (TiW/Au) has a measurable resistance due to the
cumulative resistivities of each of the metals. These
resistance values are most clearly discussed by using sheet
resistance where ohms per square are the unit of measure
(just as resistors are measured). Due to the fact that the
conductivities of metals are very high, the more meaningful
units here are milliohms per square (m1/2/N). For a circuit
trace consisting of a single metal layer, its total resistance
can be calculated as:
Rtotal
= trace length/trace width) x sheet resistance
= L/W x Rsheet
The sheet resistance is actually calculated by dividing the
bulk resistivity (an intrinsic property) by its thickness.
Rsheet
= bulk resistivity/thickness
Unfortunately, the reality of depositing or plating metals on
ceramic is that the bulk resistivity drops somewhat. As an
example, pure gold has a bulk resistivity of 2.2 µ1/2cm. When
MIC Technology sputters gold, the resultant film has a bulk
resistivity of 2.33 µ1/2cm, while plated gold measures out at
2.9 µ1/2cm. Table 1 provides some bulk resistivities of
materials commonly used by MIC Technology. Using the
above mentioned bulk resistivities, we can compute the sheet
resistance of single metal systems of various thicknesses by
dividing bulk resistivity by thickness. Table 2 indicates sheet
resistances in m1/2/N for typical metal thicknesses:
The most noticeable fact from Table 2 is that the 2 mil thick
copper sheet resistance is at least 20 times lower than that
of the 150 µin thick gold, due primarily to its thickness
advantage, and secondarily to its higher conductivity.
Standard
Trace
TABLE 2: SELECTED SHEET RESISTIVITIES
Metal
Au
Ni
TiW
Cu
TABLE 1: SELECTED BULK RESISTIVITIES
Au
Pure Bulk Resistivity
(µΩcm)
2.2
TiW
Cu
Ni
Pt
A1
—
1.71
7.48
9.83
3.8
Conservative Value of
Bulk Resistivity (µΩcm)
2.4 (sputtered)
2.9 (plated)
95 (sputtered)
1.9 (plated)
8.2 (sputtered)
10.8 (sputtered)
4.2 (evaporated)
80 µin (2 µm)
150 µin (4 µm)
600 µin (15 µm)
20 µin (0.5 µm)
400 A
2000 µin (50 µm)
Sputtered Sheet
Resistance mΩ
10 - 11
5-6
1.5
160
23,750
—
Plated Sheet
Resistance mΩ
15 - 16
7-8
2.0
—
—
0.21
As a specific example of line resistance, assume you had a
5 mil wide line that was 500 mils long with 400 angstroms of
TiW and 150 µin of sputtered gold. The total resistance would
be computed by calculating how many squares of metal there
are and then multiplying it by the effective sheet resistance
of gold in parallel with TiW. As it turns out, the gold is so
much more conductive than the TiW, only the gold determines
the total resistance. Neglecting the conductivity of the TiW:
Rtotal
= (500/5) x 6m1/2/N
= 100N x 6m1/2/N
= 0.6 ohms.
If we had included the TiW, the resistance would be:
Rtotal
= RTiW in parallel with RAu
= (RTiW x RAu)/(RTiW + RAu)
Just as with the gold:
RTiW
Material
Thickness
= (500/5) x 23,750 m1/2/N
= 100N x 23.75 1/2/N
= 2,375 ohms.
Therefore,
Rtotal
= (0.6 x 2,375)/(0.6 + 2,375) = 0.599 1/2
Obviously only the gold is significant in this situation because
including the effect of TiW decreases the total resistance by
only 0.03%. For reference, the squares concept is detailed
in Figure 1.
VISHAY ELECTRO-FILMS • FRANCE +33.4.93.37.28.24 FAX: +33.4.93.37.27.31 • GERMANY +49.9287.710 FAX: +49 9287.70435 • ISRAEL +972.3.557.0945 FAX: +972.3.558.9121
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• SWEDEN +46.8.594.70590 FAX: +46.8.594.70581 • UK +44 191 514 8237 FAX: +44 1953 457 722 • USA: (401) 738-9150 FAX: (401) 738-4389
www.vishay.com
94
For technical questions contact: [email protected]
Document Number: 61085
Revision 24-Nov-04
MIC Technology
Applications of High Conductivity
Traces in Thin Film Substrates
STEP 2: MODULE DESIGN CONSIDERATIONS
The usefulness of high conductivity traces are quite simple
when one considers the process that the typical module
engineer employs during a module design. After completing
the schematic for the module, the engineer begins a layout
of thin film circuits which will connect all of the inputs and
outputs to the proper places and not compromise electrical
performance. In the case of lines that carry electrical currents
to chips, the engineer computes the resistance of high current
lines and multiplies those values times the expected current
in each line. The resultant value is the voltage lost along the
line. As an example, if the previously mentioned 5 mil wide
line had 1 amp of current flowing through it, the voltage drop
(computed using ohms law) is:
Voltage (V) = Current (A) x Resistance (1/2)
Or
V = IR
So: V = 1 x 0.6 = 0.6 Volts dropped along the line.
Figure 2 provides a similar but more graphic example and
identifies situations where the line losses are and are not
acceptable. The significance of this lost voltage is a problem
for circuit designers but differs depending on the type of
circuit. If the circuit is a digital type, such as a multichip
memory module,
information is transferred from chip to chip as on or off signals.
The on or off state is judged by a voltage level, such as 5
volts or 0 volts, respectively. If an interconnect or power
supply line loses 0.6 volts, the 5 volt on state will now be 4.4
volts. This reduced voltage may result in undetermined states
in the digital system.
Vishay Electro-Films
Although much of the previous discussion refers to selectively
thickened copper traces, MIC Technology has the ability to apply
selective thick gold plating to lines as well. As noted in Table 2,
600 µin gold has a sheet resistance of about 1.5 mΩ. This
approach is 4 times less resistive than standard metallization
and may be a more economical solution to the customers needs
for current levels up to a few amps. Each case should be
reviewed with the factory but in some instances, this approach
can yield a more cost-effective circuit solution. For a customer
already purchasing air bridges, a thick gold plating step is already
used so selective thick conductors are available without added
processing steps.
Figure 2: Voltage Drop from
Module Input to Chip
1) Conductor Resistance:
14 Sq. x 5 mΩ/sq. = 7- mΩ
Input = 8
Volts
2) Case A: 100mA
3) Case B: 10A
Package
Wall
TiW/Au
Conductor
Chip
Voltage Plane At Chip
Case A = 7.99V, Case B =
7.3V
Figure 1: Sheet Resistance Calculation
for a TiW/Au Conductor
W
One “Square”
STEP 3: THICK FILM COMPARISON
Au
L
TiW
# of Squares = L/W
Total Resistance = # of Squares x Sheet Resistance
The more familiar problem for MIC Technologys circuits is in
analog or microwave type designs. Usually, these circuits
employ MMIC chips which amplify microwave signals. The
power that a chip can produce is directly proportional to the
voltage applied to it. If voltage is lost in a supply line due to
resistance, then a designer is throwing away available power
from the MMIC chip. In many high power T/R modules,
greater than 15 amperes of current flow to the MMIC chips.
Engineers have employed MIC Technologys high conductivity
traces in these situations to reduce voltage losses, from volts
to tenths of a volt. In one specific case, high conductor losses
would have meant a 10% reduction in output power and a
module that didnt meet its output power specification. With
a thick copper line, output power was only compromised by
roughly 0.5%.
Thick film technology has increasingly competed with thin film
in some applications. A review of the materials data reveals
thin film to be a superior performer. First, although not the
subject of this paper, the 96% alumina used for thick film
applications typically has 25% more loss to microwave energy
than the 99.6% material. Next, the metal systems used in thick
film, because they utilize pastes consisting of glass particles,
metal particles and binders, are inherently more resistive than
pure metals. Due to the screening process used to apply the
pastes, the conductor thicknesses are typically 5 to 10 times
that of thin film. These thicker conductors do, however, help to
offset the higher bulk resistivities of the pastes. Unfortunately,
the thickness variations and irregular cross-section following
screening tend to reduce these gains. The following table
compares the resistances of various thick film approaches. The
above table indicates the comparable DC performance of these
approaches. Thin film, however, still provides more performance
with thinner materials. In addition, the paste conductors have
inherently non-uniform surface characteristics which degrade
their solderability and wire bondability. Variation in total
resistance, lot to lot, is also a cause for concern, due to its
reliance on paste variations, firing temperature and duration.
VISHAY ELECTRO-FILMS • FRANCE +33.4.93.37.28.24 FAX: +33.4.93.37.27.31 • GERMANY +49.9287.710 FAX: +49 9287.70435 • ISRAEL +972.3.557.0945 FAX: +972.3.558.9121
• ITALY + 39.2.300.11911 FAX: +39.2.300.11999 • JAPAN +81.3.5464.6411 FAX: +81.3.5464.6433 • SINGAPORE +65.788.6668 FAX: +65.788.0988
• SWEDEN +46.8.594.70590 FAX: +46.8.594.70581 • UK +44 191 514 8237 FAX: +44 1953 457 722 • USA: (401) 738-9150 FAX: (401) 738-4389
Document Number: 61085
Revision 24-Nov-04
For technical questions contact: [email protected]
www.vishay.com
95
MIC Technology
Vishay Electro-Films
Applications of High Conductivity
Traces in Thin Film Substrates
TABLE 3: RESISTIVITY COMPARISON
SUMMARY
Technology
High conductivity traces are important technological additions
to the thin film industry. MIC Technology’s unique capabilities
in this area provide the customer with a low resistance
solution for high power circuits that was previously
unavailable. The several metallization options available to
the designer enable cost effective, manufacturable circuits
for a wide variety of applications.
Conductor
Nominal Sheet
Description Thickness Res. mΩ
Au,
150 µin
5
sputtered
Cu,
2 mil
0.21
plated
Tungsten
1 mil
12 - 50
Paste
Tungsten Paste 1.2 mil
5 - 10
w/Gold Overplate
0.3-0.6 mil
5
Thin Film
High Temp
Cofire
State-of-the-Art
Thick Film
Gold Paste
3 mil
Comment
MIC Std
Approach
MIC Thick
Cu Approach
Buried conductors
in ceramic
External traces
on ceramic
Standard Base
Metal System
Thick Film High
Conductivity
Approach
0.5
HIGH CONDUCTIVITY COATINGS
QUICK REFERENCE GUIDE
SELECTED BULK RESISTIVITIES
Material
Au
Pure Bulk Resistivity
(µΩcm)
2.2
TiW
Cu
Ni
Pt
A1
—
1.71
7.48
9.83
3.8
Conservative Value of
Bulk Resistivity (µΩcm)
2.4 (sputtered)
2.9 (plated)
95 (sputtered)
1.9 (plated)
8.2 (sputtered)
10.8 (sputtered)
4.2 (evaporated)
SELECTED SHEET RESISTIVITIES
Metal
Au
Ni
TiW
Cu
Thickness
80 µin (2 µm)
150 µin (4 µm)
600 µin (15 µm)
20 µin (0.5 µm)
400 A
2000 µin (50 µm)
Sputtered Sheet
Resistance mΩ
10 - 11
5-6
1.5
160
23,750
—
Plated Sheet
Resistance mΩ
15 - 16
7-8
2.0
—
—
0.21
TYPICAL PLATING SPECIFICATIONS
Plating Option
Thick Copper
Thick Gold
Metal
TiW
Au
Cu
Ni
Au
TiW
Au
Thickness
250 - 750 A
100 - 150 µin
2200 ± 400 µin
80 - 250 µin
100 - 200 µin
250 - 750 A
400 - 1000 µin
VISHAY ELECTRO-FILMS • FRANCE +33.4.93.37.28.24 FAX: +33.4.93.37.27.31 • GERMANY +49.9287.710 FAX: +49 9287.70435 • ISRAEL +972.3.557.0945 FAX: +972.3.558.9121
• ITALY + 39.2.300.11911 FAX: +39.2.300.11999 • JAPAN +81.3.5464.6411 FAX: +81.3.5464.6433 • SINGAPORE +65.788.6668 FAX: +65.788.0988
• SWEDEN +46.8.594.70590 FAX: +46.8.594.70581 • UK +44 191 514 8237 FAX: +44 1953 457 722 • USA: (401) 738-9150 FAX: (401) 738-4389
www.vishay.com
96
For technical questions contact: [email protected]
Document Number: 61085
Revision 24-Nov-04