Design, Modeling, and Characterization of Embedded Passives and Interconnects in Inhomogeneous Liquid Crystalline Polymer (LCP) Substrates

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Yun, Wansuk
Swaminathan, Madhavan
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The goal of the research in this dissertation is to design and characterize embedded passive components, interconnects, and circuits in inhomogeneous, multi-layer liquid crystalline polymer (LCP) substrates. The attenuation properties of inhomogeneous multi-layer LCP substrates were extracted up to 40 GHz. This is the first result for an inhomogeneous LCP stack-up that has been reported. The characterization results show excellent loss characteristics, much better than FR-4-based technology, and they are similar to LTCC and homogeneous LCP-based technology. A two-port characterization method based on measurements of multiple arrays of vias is proposed. The method overcomes the drawbacks of the one-port and other two-port characterizations. Model-to-hardware correlation was verified using multi-layer model in Agilent ADS and measurement-based via model using arrays of the vias. The resulting correlations show that this method can be readily applied to other vertical interconnect structures besides via structures. Comprehensive characterizations have been conducted for the efficient 3D integration of high-Q passives using a balanced LCP substrate. At two different locations from three different large M-LCP panels, 76 inductors and 16 3D capacitors were designed and measured. The parameters for the measurement-based inductor model were extracted from the measured results. The results validate the large panel process of the M-LCP substrate. To reduce the lateral size, multi-layer 3D capacitors were designed. The designed 3D capacitors with inductors can provide optimized solutions for more efficient RF front-end module integration. In addition, the parameters for the measurement-based capacitor model were extracted. Various RF front-end modules have been designed and implemented using high-Q embedded passive components in inhomogeneous multi-layer LCP substrates. A C-band filter using lumped elements has been designed and measured. The lumped baluns were used to design a double balnced-mixer for 5 GHz WLAN application and a doubly double-balanced mixer for 1.78 GHz CDMA receiver miniaturization. Finally, to overcome the limitations of the lumped component circuits, a 30 GHz gap-coupled band-pass filter in inhomogeneous multi-layer LCP substrates, and the measured results using SOLT and TRL calibrations have been compared to the simulation results.
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