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A Comparative Study of Microstrip, Stripline and Coplanar Lines on Different Substrate Technologies for High-Performance Applications
Keywords: Transmission Lines, losses, high-performance application
Depending on the layer stack, different configurations of transmission lines (e.g., microstrip, stripline or coplanar) could be used for signal transmission in multilayered packages and boards. However, since electromagnetic wave propagation in each of these transmission lines is unique, their associated frequency-dependent losses are also unique. Hence, one way to minimize losses at RF frequencies is to choose an optimal transmission line configuration. So far, the RF characteristics of microstrip, stripline and coplanar transmission lines have been extensively studied using a combination of analytical, numerical and measurement techniques. However, to reduce the design cycle time, a comparative study of these transmission line configurations, considering the substrate technology and the frequency range of application is needed. The goal of this paper, therefore, is to perform an in-depth comparative study of microstrip, stripline and coplanar transmission line configurations, considering conductor, dielectric and radiation losses on FR4, glass, ceramic and thin-film polymer substrates. For this purpose, we used analytical formulas, based on quasi-static approximations of Maxwells equations. These formulas provide a direct relationship between the geometry/substrate material of each transmission line and the corresponding losses. Consequently, a better understanding of the root causes of the losses is gained. At frequencies where the quasi-static approximation breaks down, we apply full-wave techniques to capture transmission line effects, since they can not be accounted for by analytical models. When glass substrate is considered as an example, our results reveal that coplanar lines suffer the most from DC and skin effect losses for frequencies up to 100 GHz. For an experimental verification of the analytical and full-wave simulation results, test structures were designed, fabricated and measured. A good correlation was obtained. From the results of our studies, the most optimal transmission line configuration on a given substrate technology for a particular frequency range can be easily deduced.
Robert Erxleben, Research Engineer
Fraunhofer Institute for Reliability and Microintegration, IZM
Berlin 13355,

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