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LTCC Technology for Wireless System in Package Architecture: Issues & Challenges
Keywords: LTCC, System-in-Package, Micro-system architecture
Convergence of computing, communication, consumer and biomedical applications is driving the complexity of emerging multifunctional highly integrated stand-alone wireless communication devices to higher and higher scales. New radio architectures are being introduced with higher data transfer rate. This adds to the complexity of the traditional wireless architecture. The various technologies such as digital, RF, analog, optical, MEMS and sensors are required to accomplish convergence of data, video, voice, sensing, and many other functions. With the objectives of miniaturization, portability, low-cost and performance, the complete integration of these technologies using the traditional 2-D integration on a single chip (System-on-Chip) poses numerous challenges, e.g. low-Q factor, cross-talk, substrate coupling, size restrictions for on-chip integration of passives and antenna. Moreover, distribution of power to the digital and RF circuits in case of multiple voltage levels while maintaining isolation and low EMI is a bigger challenge. This paper addresses the issues and challenges involved in the integration and packaging of these complex micro-system architectures. It is believed that for the next generation wireless systems, heterogeneous integration of system hardware e.g. the system in a package (SiP) or system on a package (SoP) approach is a more feasible option than system on chip (SoC). Recent development of materials and processes in packaging makes it possible to bring the concept of SiP into the RF applications in order to meet the stringent needs in wireless communication area. An SiP is three-dimensional (3D) integration of components as well as their interconnections using multilayer high-density architectures in different technologies with vertical interconnect and embedded component integration. SiP is based on a co-design philosophy to bring together ICs and embedded components at the system level. Investigations on system-in-package have become primary focus due to the real estate efficiency, cost saving and performance improvements potentially involved in this integrated functionality. Multilayer LTCC is a matured and widely used technology and very attractive for its excellent high frequency characteristics, dimensional stability, low TCE, good thermal conductivity, fine line patterning and easy design & fabrication of buried / embedded passives for construction of small size 3D modules. In SiP domain, LTCC can facilitate compact yet efficient wireless system realization by means of passive integration and vertical interconnects. Moreover, low loss nature of the LTCC substrate makes them very suitable for efficient antenna design. This paper brings out the salient features of LTCC technology vis-à-vis system-in-package solution for the emerging wireless architectures. A case study of implementing wireless sensor node architecture using LTCC technology is presented.
Dhirendra Mathur, Associate Professor
Govt. Engineering College
Ajmer, Rajasthan,

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