RF PCB Materials

RF PCB Materials

A RF PCB manufacturer must use high-quality materials in order to ensure the integrity of the circuit board. This is especially important for RF applications, where thermal robustness is crucial. PTFE with woven glass or ceramic-filled PTFE are common choices. Both provide good electrical properties and a low CTE.

The material must also be moisture-resistant, since the dielectric constant of the material can change with frequency. This will affect the impedance matching of the signal.

Material Selection

When creating a RF PCB, the material selection process is crucial. Choosing the right materials for your specific project will ensure that it has all the necessary qualities to perform well. There are several different types of materials that can be used in a multi-layer board, and each has unique properties that will impact the electrical, thermal, and chemical characteristics of the finished product.

Some of the more common RF PCB materials are polytetrafluoroethylene (PTFE), FR-4, FR-35, and insulated metal substrates. These materials are designed to provide a balance between cost, electrical performance, and thermal robustness. They are all characterized by a wide range of attributes, including glass transition temperature (Tg), dielectric constant (Dk), and coefficient of thermal expansion (CTE).

In addition to the electrical and thermal properties of a PCB material, its loss tangent is also important. The higher the loss tangent of a material, the more it will rf circuit board attenuate signal amplitudes. For this reason, it is important to select an RF PCB material with a low loss tangent value to maximize signal transmission efficiency.

It is also important to choose a material that has a low moisture absorption rate. Moisture ingress can cause a variety of problems, including increased power losses and poor performance. For this reason, the use of an organic solderability preserve (OSP) or immersion silver (ImAg) surface plating is recommended for RF circuit boards.


Before the PCB layout is arranged, several aspects need to be taken into account. These include the circuit’s function, working frequency range, current and voltage requirements, key RF device kinds and EMC indicators. It is also important to decide on the impedance matching circuit guidelines, which will help to prevent interference between traces.

The traces that connect the RF components need to be as short as possible, sufficiently spaced apart and oriented orthogonally on the layers. In addition, they must be isolated from the VCC/power lines. This will avoid crosstalk between the power and RF signal traces, which could interfere with the sensitivity of the RF components. It is important to choose a material with low signal losses and stable performance over high frequencies. The material’s dielectric constant and loss tangent must be consistent over the operational range of the board.

The thickness of the RF PCB also needs to be considered. If it is too thick, the copper will have a negative impact on the impedance matching circuit. A material with a lower coefficient of thermal expansion (CTE) is also preferred, as it will better handle the heat generated during soldering. This will prevent the formation of cracks in the conductive materials that may affect performance. Moreover, the traces that carry RF signals must be connected to continuous ground planes. This is because high frequencies cannot tolerate discontinuities in the ground planes.


The isolation process is essential for RF PCBs. It helps to ensure that RF signals don’t interfere with other parts of the circuit board. In addition to this, it can help to reduce the power supply noise and increase signal integrity. It also helps to minimize the inductive coupling between traces and reduce the parallel length of RF tracks. This is especially important for high-speed signals, such as digital and analog signals.

Many Maxim RF components require impedance-controlled transmission lines to transport RF power to and from IC pins. These can be implemented in outer layers or buried within an inner layer. Depending on the application, these transmission lines may be microstrips, strip lines, or coplanar wave guides (grounded). This guide outlines the appropriate guidelines for each type of line, including its characteristic impedance, the width of the trace, and the layer change. It also discusses how to compensate for the bending angle of these lines.

Another factor to consider is that RF circuits create additional heat during operation, so RF Circuit Board Supplier it’s important to keep the board as cool as possible. This is particularly important when using polytetrafluoroethylene (PTFE) substrates, which are known for their excellent thermal performance and low dielectric constant. Additionally, traces should be as small as possible to avoid excessive path inductance and leaking RF energy to other parts of the circuit board.


RF PCBs are used in many applications, from radar stations and cell phones to medical devices and aerospace devices. The high frequencies in RF circuit boards cause signal reflections, which need to be minimized to ensure accurate transmission. This requires a careful balance of impedance and power transfer.

Unlike conventional PCBs, RF circuit boards must have a low impedance throughout the entire signal bandwidth. The impedance is dependent on the geometry of the traces, including their width and dielectric constant. It can also be influenced by the height from the ground plane and their thickness. In addition, signal lines should be routed separately from each other to avoid coupling. Digital noise from clocks, PLLs and other devices can couple onto RF signal lines and cause distortion.

To reduce noise, a decoupling capacitor is connected across the power supply. This process filters out noise from the power supply and prevents it from being coupled into the RF signal path. The capacitor is connected to the RF trace as a shunt element and has its impedance set to be as low as possible. To get the best results, place multiple decoupling capacitors with different resonant frequencies.

RF circuit board design is a complex process that involves balancing many factors. This includes stack-up, material selection, and impedance matching. To achieve optimal performance, the designer must consider all of these factors and choose the appropriate materials for each layer of the circuit board.