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Low Temperature Co-fired Ceramic (LTCC) Technology for Development of Components/Devices for Alternative Applications
Keywords: LTCC technology, Sensors, Precision agriculture
LTCC technology offers an efficient and reliable approach to miniaturize electronic circuitry by burying passive components and efficiently integrating the active ones in a hermetic multi-layer package with high-interconnect density. The technology is well known to automotive, electronics, aerospace and biotechnology industries as well as to military. Low and stable dielectric and conductor losses in the microwave frequency range, high chemical resistance to a broad range of chemicals, low moisture absorption, matched CTE (coefficient of thermal expansion) to Si, GaAs and low surface roughness are some of the attractive features that make LTCC the ideal choice for most of the commercial applications requiring high reliability [1]. A relatively recent field where LTCC is growing is the sensors and micro-system applications including but not being limited to a broad range of sensors and chemical and electro-fluidic micro platforms. These devices are fabricated by piling up easily-cut LTCC tapes printed with electrical components and by integrating cavities and micro-channels, which are essential features of micro-fluidic devices [2]. The objective of this article is to present components/sensors developed using LTCC technology for alternative applications. The focus is a capacitive-type soil moisture sensor, which is developed to measure the water volume content (WVC) of the soil for precision farming. The sensor is fabricated by soldering the multilayer LTCC electronics block on a fork-type PCB electrode and by encapsulating the LTCC unit. The sensor basically detects the change of the soil dielectric constant due to alterations in WVC. Moreover, it carries a separately-integrated commercial wireless communication system to transmit the data to a remote centre for evaluation. Fabrication of the sensor and results of the field tests are to be detailed in the article. Preliminary test results confirm high sensitivity, rapid response (depending on the texture of the soil) and 20-30m of data transmission distance for the initial version.
Hansu Birol, Manager of Ceramic Microsystems
Centro de Inovacoes CSEM Brasil
Belo Horizonte, MG
Brazil


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