RF PCB Materials

For Microwave Electronics

Selecting RF PCB Materials

Microwave electronics and PCBs operate at signal frequencies ranging from low MHz to very high GHz (mmWave range). These innovative products are built using various synthetic and naturally-occurring materials to ensure consistent operation and signal integrity at high frequencies. Material selection is, in fact, the most critical factor in designing a high-performance microwave PCB.

RF PCB materials have certain properties that define their usage for both printed circuits, in interconnect boards, or as standalone assemblies. These include their dielectric constant, thermal expansion coefficient (CTE), and loss tangent or dissipation. In addition to the dielectric material, the copper material used in an RF PCB stackup is important as it will have some roughness, and thus it will determine the skin effect experienced by signals as they propagate along an interconnect.




RF PCB Layer Stacks

The first thing to decide while designing a PCB stackup for a microwave electronics assembly or RF PCB is which materials are required. In the past, PCB designers had limited material options. Today, a wide range of low-loss dielectric materials for microwave PCBs are available from different manufacturers. The primary materials to select and balance in an RF PCB stackup design include:

  • Laminate and bondply layers
  • Copper foil
  • Surface plating
  • Any surface coatings, such as solder mask and conformal coatings

RF PCB stackup

Most of today’s RF PCB materials are polytetrafluoroethylene (PTFE)-based materials. PTFE is an engineered thermoplastic fluoropolymer with low dielectric losses at microwave frequencies. The dielectric constant can range from very small values to very large values, which allows the required size of RF printed circuits to be adjusted simply by selecting an alternative material. Three of the most popular RF materials manufacturers include Rogers, Taconic, and Arlon.




Is PTFE Better Than FR4 PCB Materials?

PTFE and FR4 are two of the most used PCB design materials, and it’s important to understand the difference between them. FR4 is a standard defined by National Electrical Manufacturers Association (NEMA), referring to glass-reinforced epoxy laminate material. The "FR" in FR4 stands for "flame retardant." While FR4 materials are common and they cost less, PTFE is a better choice for RF/microwave PCBs operating well above WiFi frequencies. PTFE materials have some important advantages:

  • Lower dissipation factor than FR4 materials
  • Lower dispersion up to very high frequencies
  • Dielectric constant is more stable against temperature changes
  • Some laminates can have lower CTE values than FR4
  • Materials tend to be available with low-profile copper

RF PCB design

One strategy for using PTFE materials alongside standard epoxy resin/fiberglass FR4 materials is to build a hybrid PCB stackup. In this type of design, one or more outer layers can be designed with a low-loss PTFE material to support RF routing. The other layers can then be chosen from standard FR4 materials with higher dielectric constant. This is a useful approach in mixed-signal systems that also have some digital interfaces, but they do not have the low-loss requirements of a typical RF interconnect.




RF PCB Materials List

The chart below shows the basic properties of various RF PCB materials sorted by dielectric constant at 10 GHz. We’ve compiled a complete list of materials from major microwave PCB laminate manufactures like Rogers and Arlon. We hope this list can help you compare your material options and make the best decision for your new design.


Access in PDF Format


*Type: P = PTFE, C = Ceramic, W = Woven, T = Thermoset Resin, R = Random Glass, ME = Modified Epoxy Resin, CE = Cyanate Ester, F = Filled Composite, CEQ = Cyanate Ester w/Quartz Fabric, LCP = Liquid Crystalline Polymer, CP = Cross Plied, H = Hydrocarbon


Dk@10GHz Name Supplier Type CTE-X (ppm/°C) CTE-Y (ppm/°C) CTE-Z (ppm/°C) Df@10GHz MIL REF IPC Slash Sheet
1.96 +/- 0.04
RT/Duroid 5880LZ Rogers P,F See mfg. See mfg. 41.5 0.0019 - -
2.08 +/ - 0.02 NY9208 Nelco P,W 25 35 260 0.0006 GY 4103/05
2.05 +/- 0.05 CuFlon Polyflon P 129 129 129 0.00045 @18GHz N/A N/A
2.10 +/ 0.02 TacLamplus Taconic P - - - 0.0004 - -
2.17, 2.20 +/- 0.02 CuClad 217LX Arlon P,W,CP 29 28 246 0.0009 GY 4103/05
2.17, 2.20 +/- 0.02 DiClad 880
Arlon P,W 25 34 252 0.0009 GY 4103/05
2.17, DiClad 880-PIM
Arlon P,W 25 34 252 0.0009 GY 4103/05
2.17, 2.20 +/- 0.04 IsoClad 917 Arlon P,R 46 47 236 0.0013 GP,GR 4103/03,04
2.17 +/- 0.02 NY9217 Nelco P,W 25 35 260 0.0008 GY 4103/05
2.17 +/- 0.02 TLY-5A & -5AL Taconic P,W 26 15 217 0.0009 - -
2.17 +/- 0.03 TLP-5A Taconic P,W 20 20 280 0.0009 - -
2.20 +/- 0.02 NY9220 Nelco P,W 25 35 260 0.0009 GY 4103/05
2.20 +/- 0.02 RT/Duroid 5880 Rogers P,R 31 48 237 0.0009 GP,GR 125/04
2.20 +/-0.02 TLY-5 & -5-L Taconic P,W 26 15 217 0.0009 - -
2.20 +/- 0.03 TLP-5 Taconic P,W 20 20 280 0.0009 - -
2.320 +/- 0.005 Polyguide Polyflon Polyolefin   108 108 108 0.0005 N/A N/A
Dk@10GHz Name Supplier Type CTE-X (ppm/°C) CTE-Y (ppm/°C) CTE-Z (ppm/°C) Df@10GHz MIL REF IPC Slash Sheet
2.33 +/- 0.02 CuClad 233LX Arlon P,W,CP 23 24 194 0.0013 GY 4103/05
2.33 +/- 0.02 DiClad 870 Arlon P,W 17 29 217 0.0013 GY 4103/05
2.33 +/- 0.04 IsoClad 933 Arlon P,R 31 35 203 0.0016 GP,GR 4103/03,04
2.33 +/- 0.02 NY9233 Nelco P,W 25 35 260 0.0011 GY 4103/05
2.33 +/- 0.02 RT/Duroid 5870 Rogers P,R 22 28 173 0.0012 GP,GR 125/04
2.33 +/- 0.02 TLY-3 & -3F Taconic P,W 26 15 217 0.0012 - -
2.33 +/- 0.03 TLP-3 Taconic P,W 20 20 280 0.0009 - -
2.4 - 2.6 +/- 0.04 CuClad 250GX Arlon P,W,CP 18 19 177 0.0018 GX 4103/02
2.4 - 2.6 +/- 0.05 DiClad 522 Arlon P,W 14 21 173 0.0018 GT 4103/01
2.4 - 2.6 +/- 0.04 DiClad 527 Arlon P,W 14 21 173 0.0018 GX 4103/02
2.4 - 2.6 +/- 0.04
Ultralam   2000
Rogers
P,W 15 15 200 0.0019 GX 125/02
2.40 +/- 0.04 NX9240 Nelco P,W 12 18 150 0.0016 GX 4103/02
2.45 +/- 0.04 NX9245 Nelco P,W 12 18 150 0.0016 GX 4103/02
2.45 +/-0.04 TLX-0 Taconic P,W 9 12 140 0.0019 GX 125/02
2.45 +/-0.05 TLT-0 Taconic P,W 9 12 140 0.0019 - -
2.4 – 2.6 +/-0.05 CuClad 250GT Arlon P,W,CP 18 19 177 0.0018 GT 4103/01
2.50 AD250 Arlon P,W 12 15 95 0.0018 N/A 4103/02
2.50 AD250-PIM Arlon P,W 12 15 95 0.0018 N/A 4103/09
2.50 +/- 0.04 AD250C Arlon P,C,W 16 16 50 0.0014 N/A N/A
2.50 +/- 0.04 AD250A Arlon P,C,W 12 15 95 0.0015 N/A N/A
2.50 +/- 0.04 NX9250 Nelco P,W 12 18 150 0.0017 GX 4103/02
2.50 +/-0.04 TLX-9 Taconic P,W 9 12 140 0.0019 GX 125/02
2.50 +/-0.05 TLT-9 Taconic P,W 9 12 140 0.0019 - -
2.55 AD255 Arlon P,W 12 15 95 0.0018 N/A 4103/02
2.55 +/- 0.04 AD255A Arlon P,C,W 16 16 80 0.0015 N/A 4103/02
2.55 +/- 0.04 AD255C Arlon P,C,W 16 16 50 0.0014 N/A N/A
2.55 +/- 0.05 NorClad Polyflon See mfg. 53 53 53 0.0011 @3GHz N/A 125/02
2.55 +/- 0.04 NX9255 Nelco P,W 12 18 150 0.0018 GX 4103/02
Dk@10GHz Name Supplier Type CTE-X (ppm/°C) CTE-Y (ppm/°C) CTE-Z (ppm/°C) Df@10GHz MIL REF IPC Slash Sheet
2.55 +/- 0.04 TLX-8 Taconic P,W 9 12 140 0.0019 GX 125/02
2.55 +/- 0.05 TLT-8 Taconic P,W 9 12 140 0.0019 - -
2..6 ComClad HF Sheldahl T 59 59 59 0.0025 - 0.0040 Copper Clad Norel N/A
2.60 +/- 0.04 AD260A Arlon P,C,W 16 16 80 0.0017 N/A N/A
2.60 +/- 0.04 NX9260 Nelco P,W 12 18 150 0.0019 GX 4103/02
2.60 +/- 0.05 TSM-26 Taconic P,C,W 23 28 78 0.0014 - -
2.60 +/-0.04 TLX-7 Taconic P,W 9 12 140 0.0019 GX 125/02
2.60 +/-0.05 TLT-7 Taconic P,W 9 12 140 0.0019 - -
2.62 TLA-6 Taconic P,W 9 12 140 0.0017 - -
2.65 +/-0.04 TLX-6 Taconic P,W 9 12 140 0.0019 GX 125/02
2.65 +/-0.05 TLT-6 Taconic P,W 9 12 140 0.0019 - -
2.70 AD270 Arlon P,W 12 15 95 0.0023 N/A 4103/09
2.70 +/- 0.04 NX9270 Nelco P,W 25 35 260 0.0020 GX 125/02
2.75 +/-0.05 TLC-27 Taconic P,W 9 12 70 0.0030 - -
2.80 +/- 0.05 IS680 2.80 Isola See mfg. 12 12 44.7 0.0030 N/A N/A
2.85 +/- 0.05 TSM-DS Taconic P,C,W 11 18 57 0.0010 - -
2.87 TLG-29 Taconic P,C,W 22 23 135 0.0027 - -
2.90 Ultralam 3850 Rogers LCP 17 17 150 0.0025 - -
2.90 - 3.00+/- 0.04 RT/Duroid 6202PR Rogers P,C,W 15 15 30 0.0020 - -
2.94 +/- 0.04 RT/Duroid 6002 Rogers P,C 16 16 24 0.0012 - -
2.94 +/- 0.03 CLTE-XT Arlon P,C,W 8 8 20 0.0012 N/A 4103/06
2.94 CLTE-LC Arlon P,C,W 10 12 35 0.0025 N/A 4103/06
2.94 +/- 0.04 NX9294 Nelco P,W 25 35 260 0.0022 N/A 4103/09
2.94 +/- 0.07 NH9294 Nelco P,C,W 9 12 71 0.0022 N/A 4103/06
2.94 +/- 0.04 RT/Duroid 6202 Rogers P,C,W 15 15 30 0.0015 - -
2.94 +/- 0.05 TSM-29 Taconic P,C,W 23 28 78 0.0013 - -
2.95 +/- 0.05 TLE-95 Taconic P,W 9 12 70 0.0028 - -
2.96 +/- 0.04 CLTE Arlon P,C,W 10 12 34 0.0023 N/A 4103/06
2.97 +/- 0.05 AD300C Arlon P,C,W 12 12 50 0.0020 N/A 4103/09
2.97 +/- 0.07 RF-301 Taconic P,C,W 17 20 150 0.0018 - -
3.00 AD300 Arlon P,W 12 15 95 0.0030 N/A 4103/09
3.00 AD300-PIM Arlon P,W 12 15 95 0.0030 N/A 4103/09
3.00 +/-0.04 AD300A Arlon P,C,W 12 12 125 0.0020 N/A 4103/09
3.00 +/- 0.04 CLTE-AT Arlon P,C,W 8 8 20 0.0013 N/A 4103/06
Dk@10GHz Name Supplier Type CTE-X (ppm/°C) CTE-Y (ppm/°C) CTE-Z (ppm/°C) Df@10GHz MIL REF IPC Slash Sheet
3.00 +/- 0.05 IS680 3.00 Isola See mfg. 12 12 44.7 0.0030 N/A N/A
3.00 +/- 0.04 NX9300 Nelco P,W 25 35 260 0.0023 N/A 4103/09
3.00 +/- 0.07 NH9300 Nelco P,C,W 9 12 71 0.0023 N/A 4103/06
3.00 N9300-13 RF Nelco ME 13 20 67 0.0040 N/A N/A
3.00 +/- 0.04 RO3003 Rogers P,C 17 16 25 0.0011 GX 125/02
3.00 +/- 0.06 RO3730 Rogers P,C 11 12 65 0.0016 - -
3.00 +/- 0.08 RO4730 Rogers H,C 19 17 40 0.0033    
3.00 +/- 0.05 TSM-DS3 Taconic P,C,W 10 16 23 0.0011 - -
3.00 +/- 0.05 TSM-30 Taconic P,C,W 23 28 78 0.0013 - -
3.00 +/- 0.05 TLC-30 Taconic P,W 9 12 70 0.0030 - -
3.00 TLG-30 Taconic P,C,W 22 23 135 0.0038 - -
3.00 +/- 0.10 RF-30 Taconic P,C,W 11 21 125 0.0019 - -
3.02 +/- 0.04 RO3203 Rogers P,C,W 13 13 58 0.0016 - -
3.05 Copper Clad ULTEM Polyflon Polyethermide 56 56 56 0.003 N/A N/A
3.20 AD320 Arlon P,W 12 15 95 0.0038 N/A 4103/09
3.20 AD320-PIM Arlon P,W 12 15 95 0.0030 N/A 4103/09
3.20 +/- 0.04 AD320A Arlon P,C,W 14 14 128 0.0032 N/A 4103/09
3.20 +/0.05 IS680 3.20 Isola See mfg. 12 12 44.7 0.0030 N/A N/A
3.20 N8000Q Nelco CEQ N/A N/A 70 (2) 0.006 N/A 4101B/61
3.20 +/- 0.04 NX9320 Nelco P,W 25 35 260 0.0024 N/A 4103/09
3.20 +/- 0.07 NH9320 Nelco P,C,W 9 12 71 0.0024 N/A 4103/16
3.20 N9320-13 RF Nelco ME 13 20 67 0.0045 N/A N/A
3.20 +/- 0.05 TLC-32 Taconic P,W 9 12 70 0.0030 - -
3.23 +/- 0.05 XT/Duroid 8000 0.002" Thick Rogers See mfg. data sht. 18 23 68 0.0035max. - -
3.27 +/- 0.032 TMM-3 Rogers C,T 15 15 23 0.0020 - -
3.30 +/- 0.08 RO4533 Rogers H,C 13 11 37 0.0025 - -
3.32 +/- 0.05 XT/Duroid 8100 0.004" Thick Rogers See mfg. data sht. 19 21 76 0.0038 - -
3.33 +/- 0.05 IS680 3.33 Isola See mfg. 12 12 44.7 0.0030 N/A N/A
3.38 +/- 0.06 25N Arlon C,W,T 15 15 52 0.0025 N/A 4103/10
3.38 +/- 0.05 IS680 3.38 Isola See mfg. 12 12 44.7 0.0032 N/A N/A
3.38 +/- 0.10 NH9338 Nelco P,C,W 9 12 71 0.0025 N/A 4103/16
3.38 +/- 0.05 RO4003C Rogers H,C 11 14 46 0.0029 - -
3.39 max. SYRON 7100 0.004" thick. Rogers T 19 21 76 0.005max. - -
3.38 +/- 0.05 TLC-338 Taconic P,W 9 12 70 0.0034 - -
Dk@10GHz Name Supplier Type CTE-X (ppm/°C) CTE-Y (ppm/°C) CTE-Z (ppm/°C) Df@10GHz MIL REF IPC Slash Sheet
3.38 N9338-13 RF Nelco ME 13 20 67 0.0046 N/A N/A
3.40 +/- 0.08 RO4534 Rogers H,C 11 14 46 0.0027 - -
3.4 max. SYRON 7000 0.002" thick Rogers T 18 23 68 0.0045max. - -
3.40 +/- 0.07 TLF-34 Taconic P,C,W 21 23 85 0.0020 - -
3.45 +/- 0.05 IS680 3.45 Isola See mfg. 12 12 44.7 0.0035 N/A N/A
3.48 +/- 0.10 NH9348 Nelco P,C,W 9 12 71 0.0030 N/A 4103/16
3.48 +/- 0.05 RO4350B Rogers H,C 14 16 35 0.0037 - -
3.48 +/- 0.05 RO4350B -TX Rogers H,C 14 16 35 0.0034 - -
3.48 N9350-13 RF Nelco ME 13 20 67 0.0055 N/A N/A
3.50 AD350 Arlon P,W 12 15 95 0.003 N/A 4103/09
3.50 AD350-PIM Arlon P,W 12 15 95 0.0030 N/A 4103/09
3.50 +/- 0.05 AD350A Arlon P,C,W 5 9 35 0.0030 N/A 4103/09,/16
3.50 +/- 0.05 TC350 Arlon P,C,W 7 7 23 0.0020 N/A 4103/09,/16
3.50 GETEK Isola W,T 13 14 55 0.0100 N/A 4103C/25
3.50 Mercurywave 9350 Nelco ME 10 14 48(2) 0.004 N/A 4103/11
3.50 +/- 0.10 NH9350 Nelco P,C,W 9 12 71 0.0030 N/A 4103/16
3.50 N4350-13 RF Nelco ME 10 14 3.5% 0.0065 N/A 4101B/29
3.50 N8000 Nelco CE 11 13 2.5% 0.011 N/A 4101B/70,71
3.50 +/- 0.05 RT/Duroid 6035HTC Rogers P,C 19 19 39 0.0013 - -
3.50 +/-0.05 RO3035 Rogers P,C 17 17 24 0.0017 - -
3.50 +/- 0.08 RO4535 Rogers H,C 14 16 35 0.0037 - -
3.50 +/- 0.05 TLC-35 Taconic P,W 9 12 70 0.0037 - -
3.50 +/- 0.07 TLF-35 Taconic P,C,W 21 23 85 0.0020 - -
3.50 +/- 0.05 RF-35TC Taconic P,C,W 11 13 34 0.0011 - -
3.50 +/- 0.05 RF-35A2 Taconic P,C,W 10 13 106 0.0015 - -
3.50 +/- 0.10 RF-35 Taconic P,C,W 19 24 64 0.0025 - -
3.50 +/- 0.10 RF-35P Taconic P,C,W 15 15 110 0.0034 - -
3.54 +/- 0.05 XT/Duroid 8100 0.002" Thick Rogers See mfg. data sht. 16.5 18 57 0.0049 - -
3.58 +/- 0.06 25FR Arlon C,W,T 16.5 18 59 0.0035 - 4103/11
3.61 Megtron6 R5775(K) Panasonic W,T 14-16 14.6 45 0.004 N/A 4101/102
3.61 max. SYRON 7100 0.002" thick Rogers T 16.5 18 57 0.006max. - -
Dk@10GHz Name Supplier Type CTE-X (ppm/°C) CTE-Y (ppm/°C) CTE-Z (ppm/°C) Df@10GHz MIL REF IPC Slash Sheet
3.70 MULTICLAD HF Arlon T 14-16 14-16 - 0.0045 - -
3.8 - 4.2 @1MHz Getek GE W,T 12 15 55 0.01 - -
3.80 N4380-13 RF Nelco ME 10 14 3.5% 0.007 N/A 4101B/29
3.85 – 4.02 Theta Rogers See mfg. data sht. N/A N/A ~50 0.0126 – 0.0120 - -
4.10 AD410 Arlon P,C,W 9 9 40 0.003 - 4103/16
4.10 +/- 0.10 NH9410 Nelco P,C,W 9 12 71 0.0030 N/A 4103/16
4.10 +/- 0.15 RF-41 Taconic P,C,W 9 12 93 0.0038 - -
4.10 +/- 0.15 TRF-41 Taconic P,C,W 9 9 40 0.0035 - -
4.30 AD430 Arlon P,C,W 9 9 40 0.0030 - 4103/16
4.30 +/- 015 RF-43 Taconic P,C,W 9 11 96 0.0033 - -
4.30 +/- 0.15 TRF-43 Taconic P,C,W 9 9 40 0.0035 - -
4.50 AD450 Arlon P,C,W 8 11 42 0.0035 - 4103/16
4.50 AD450A Arlon P,C,W 10 10 40 0.0035 - N/A
4.50 +/- 0.10 NH9450 Nelco P,C,W 9 12 71 0.0030 N/A 4103/16
4.50 +/- 0.045 TMM-4 Rogers C,T 16 16 21 0.0020 - -
4.50 +/- 0.15 RF-45 Taconic P,C,W 9 13 96 0.0037 - -
4.50 +/- 0.15 TRF-45 Taconic P,C,W 9 9 40 0.0035 - -
5.10 AD5 Arlon P,C,W 15 15 45 0.0030 N/A 4103/16
6.00 +/- 0.08 TMM-6 Rogers C,T 18 18 26 0.0023 - -
5.50-6.30 AD600 Arlon P,C,W 11 10 45 0.0030 N/A 4103/07
6.15 +/- 0.15 TC600 Arlon P,C,W 9 9 35 0.0020 - 4103/07
6.15 +/- 0.15 RT/Duroid 6006 Rogers P,C 47 34 117 0.0027 - 125/07
6.15 +/- 0.15 RO3006 Rogers P,C 17 17 24 0.0020 N/A 125/07
6.15 +/-0.15 RO3206 Rogers P,C,W 13 13 34 0.0027 - -
6.15 +/- 0.15 RO4360 Rogers H,C 16.6 14.6 30 0.0038 - -
6.15 +/- 0.25 RF-60A Taconic P,C,W 9 8 69 0.0038 - -
9.20 +/- 0.23 TMM-10 Rogers C,T 21 21 20 0.0022 - -
9.80 +/- 0.245 TMM-10i Rogers C,T 19 19- 20 0.0020 - -
9.80 AR1000 Arlon P,C,W 14 16 37 0.003 N/A 4103/08
10.00 +/- 0.25 CER-10 Taconic P,C,W 13 15 46 0.0035 - -
10.20 AD1000 Arlon P,C,W 8 10 20 0.0023 - 4103/08
10.20 AD10 Arlon P,C,W 5.6 5.8 8.2 0.0078 N/A N/A
10.2 +/- 0.30 RO3010 Rogers P,C 13 11 16 0.0022 - 125/08
10.2 +/- 0.50 RO3210 Rogers P,C,W 13 13 34 0.0027 - -
10.2 +/- 0.25 RT/Duroid 6010.2LM Rogers P,C 24 24 47 0.0023 - 125/08

Data compiled from Standard Printed Circuits



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