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The Design and Applications of Embedded Passives on Flexible PCB Substrates
Keywords: embedded passive, power amplifier, flexible substrate
This paper introduces the design of embedded passives and power amplifier circuit on the multilayer-and-flexible PCB substrate. A novel four-layer stacked PCB lamination process was applied: four layers of metal and three ultra-thin layers of organic materials constituted the PCB lamination. The Hi-Dk CCL (Copper-Coated Laminated) was treated as the core, and was built up with two layers of pre-preg on the opposite sides. With a total thickness of 0.2mm, the multilayer and ultra-thin PCB substrate is mechanically flexible. In addition, HDI vias and through holes were also applied in the process, which benefited small-sized circuit design. In order to minimize package sizes, embedded passive technology might be a solution for system integration. With Hi-Dk and commercial organic materials, embedded passives could be integrated into the PCB processes. Therefore, the design of embedded capacitors and inductors were applied on the PCB lamination processes. Since the multilayer PCBs were flexible, the 3D transformation models of embedded passives were also considered. The electrical characteristics of these passives were modeled by a 3D EM solver. The deviations of frequency responses were estimated for the bended and un-bended cases. A power amplifier (PA) design is also presented. Firstly, a PA circuit with surface mounted devices (SMDs) was estimated. Then, some of the SMDs were replaced with embedded passives; thus a PA circuit with embedded capacitors and inductors was made. The power amplifier exhibits 25.7dB of gain, 28.3dBm of output P1dB, and -41.3dBc of IM3 at 20dBm output power. The simulation and measured results have demonstrated a successful circuit design for IEEE 802.11g WLAN.
Syun Yu, RF Design Engineer
Industrial Technology Research Institute
Hsinchu, Taiwan 31040,

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