LPKF readies direct laser structuring for mm-wave antennas

May 24, 2016 // By Julien Happich
In cooperation with the Institute of High Frequency Technology and Radio Systems (Institut für Hochfrequenztechnik und Funksysteme, HFT) at Leibniz University of Hannover, LPKF is assessing its Laser Direct Structuring (LDS) technique for the design of antennas in the millimeter-wave frequency band.

MID technology (molded interconnect device) represents a solution, allowing electrical structures, such as antennas, to be applied to nearly any surface. HFT uses laser direct structuring in its development work. With LDS, a laser beam structures a three-dimensional part made of an LDS-doped plastic.

The laser beam transfers the desired circuit layout onto the substrate while activating the additive at the same time. In a subsequent electro-less metallization step, copper layers are built up on the structures traversed by the laser beam. These layers can then be given various surface finishes. LDS antennas covering the frequency band up to 6 GHz (Bluetooth, LTE, or Wi-Fi) can be found in many of today’s smartphones, tablets, and wearable devices, but understanding the relevant manufacturing criteria for RF applications beyond 6 GHz formed the basis for the cooperation between HFT and LPKF.

The research center has already produced prototypes of an antenna for use in millimeter-wave sensors operating at 24GHz and is now working on test antennas operating at 77GHz. So far, the results of the test measurements are also extremely promising for these applications and demonstrate the potential for LDS-based antennas operating at higher frequencies. LPKF expects research papers to be published in late summer 2016.

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