Guide, PCB Manufacturing

Aluminium Nitride PCBs: Properties, Advantages and Applications

Aluminium Nitride PCB

In today’s rapidly evolving electronics field, the need for high-performance, reliable and thermally efficient circuit boards has never been greater. Aluminum Nitride PCBs have become a key solution to meet these needs, offering thermal conductivity, electrical insulation and mechanical strength beyond traditional PCB materials.

What is Aluminium Nitride PCB?

Aluminium Nitride Printed Circuit Board (Aluminum Nitride PCB) is a PCB made of aluminium nitride material. Aluminium nitride PCB has a Unique type of ceramic structured substrate, which is known for its high thermal conductivity, resistance to chemical environment, and dielectric strength. The Aluminium Nitride ceramic substrate of the Printed circuit Board consists of hexagonal structures that provide structural, electrical, and thermal properties.

Types of Aluminium Nitride PCB

There are two common types of Aluminum Nitride PCB as below:

1. Direct Bond Copper Aluminum Nitride PCB

Copper Film or copper layer is directly bonded to Aluminium Nitride ceramic substrate using the high-temperature oven. This copper layer is sandwiched with the substrate with a dielectric insulator in between them. The copper layer is etched in the later stage to form electronic circuits.

2. Thick Film Aluminum Nitride PCB

If the Aluminium Nitride substrate is coated with Thick conductive material such as Silver (Ag) or Gold (Au) to form a conductive layer. This layer is etched but can be used only for low-power or medium-level current conduction applications.

Properties of Aluminium Nitride PCB

Properties of Aluminium Nitride PCB

Properties of Aluminium Nitride PCB:

Thermal Properties

  • Thermal Conductivity: The incredible thermal conductivity ranges from 120 to 200W/mK. This property of the Aluminum Nitride PCB helps with thermal management in applications like RF/ Microwave or high-power switching devices.
  • Thermal Expansion: The thermal expansion is low when compared to similar silicon materials. The coefficient of thermal expansion is CTE< 4ppm/C which reduces the failure of components as the dielectric strength is also higher.
  • Temperature Resistance: The operating temperatures can be as high as> 350 degrees Celsius. The melting point of the Alumina circuit board is over 2000 degrees Celsius as it also maintains structural stability at higher temperatures.

Electrical Properties

  • Electrical Insulation: Ceramic by nature possesses excellent insulation properties which ensures no electrical leakage and isolates electronic components with 10^12 to 10^13 ohms centimeter. This also ensures signal integrity in high voltage and high current applications
  • Dielectric Properties:  The dielectric constant is low and ranges from 8.5 to 10 and its low dielectric loss is preferable in designing high-frequency and high-speed electronic applications.

Mechanical Properties

  • Mechanical Strength: Aluminum Nitride PCB has good mechanical strength as the ceramic substrate provides a vital role in complex geometry and the stress taken during vibration or high temperatures. The mechanical strength and flexural strength are around 300 MPa whereas the Youngs modulus strength is 310 GPa which is higher than FR-4 General aluminium or copper-poured PCB.
  • Hardness: Aluminum Nitride PCB possesses a hardness of approximately 1100HV.
  • Water Resistance: The water absorption for the Alumina circuit boards is almost zero and has high resistance to chemical hazards.
  • Density: The substrate possesses lightweight and less-density components with around 3.26 g/cm3 eventually reducing the board’s weight making it suitable for lightweight components and aerospace subsystems.

Chemical Properties

  • Chemical Stability: These characteristics can adapt to high power dissipating applications, harsh environments, and higher frequency operations which are difficult to achieve with standard FR4 PCB. It is resistant to the majority of the acid and alkali compounds.
  • Oxidation Resistance: The oxide layer is formed at high temperatures preventing oxidation reaction.
  • Resistance to UV Radiation: Aluminium Nitride substrates show resistance to Ultraviolet radiation even at prolonged exposure. The property with no degradation or damage even during applications like sterilization equipment.

Advantages of Aluminium Nitride PCB

Advantages of Aluminium Nitride PCB

Advantages of Aluminium Nitride PCB:

High Thermal Conductivity

Conducting the heat away efficiently from high current or high-power electronic components to prevent them from overheating and improving the lifecycle and reliability of all the electronic components is the main leverage.

Electrical Insulation

Excellent insulation properties of the Alumina circuit boards are applied when high-voltage components are incorporated in a PCB with minimal clearance distance from each other. The isolation is better than FR4 or other silicon materials.

Thermal Expansion Stability

The thermal coefficient is low and the property is to expand less under thermal stress for Aluminum Nitride PCB. This can be used along with silicon and make other semiconductor products perform under ideal conditions.

Durability

The robust nature of Aluminum Nitride PCB provides Mechanical and chemical stability ensuring the longevity of the product performance and reliability in automotive, aerospace, or medical environments.

Non-Toxicity

The Non-Toxic nature of the Aluminum Nitride PCB helps in manufacturing and handling with ease.

Applications of Aluminium Nitride Printed Circuit Boards

Electronic Devices

  • Heat Sinks:  Aluminum Nitride PCB has high thermal conductivity and electrical insulation making it the best material for the heat sink substrates for high power and heat-dissipating electronic components.
  • High Frequency Components: The dielectric constant and loss is low making the Alumina circuit board suitable for RF components like antennas and other resonator circuits more compatible.

Optoelectronics

  • Medical: Laser-based applications in the medical industry have high head transmission so Aluminum nitride PCB is used.
  • Lighting Application: LED-based Lighting applications use heat sinks and to avoid them Aluminum nitride PCB is used as the Alumina substrate PCB reduces the product cost.

Automotive

  • Sensors: The durability of Aluminium Nitride fights the harsh automotive environments.
  • Power Circuits: Power supply, chargers, traction control, and other circuits need thermal aiding PCB which can also handle the losses. The Alumina substrate PCB type provides more lifecycle for MOSFET/ IGBT/ SiC or other module-based switching components.

Aerospace and Defense

  • Thermals: Thermal management in aerospace is very difficult and vital, especially with avionics and warfare systems
  • Advanced Radar System: Alumina circuit board is optimal for high-frequency communication devices and helpful in radar systems.

Energy

  • Photovoltaic Technology:  Aluminium Nitride substrate is used in Photo Voltaic cell manufacturing as a substrate for Bifacial solar panels and their build. Alumina substrate PCB  helps in enhancing thermal management.
  • Battery Technology: Battery charge and discharge circuit consist of high current traces passing through PCB, so Alumina substrate PCB helps in thermal management.

Medical Devices

  • Implantable Devices: Aluminum Nitride PCBs are compatible and non-toxic to the environment so they are used in most implantable electronic devices which also ensures safety and long-lasting.
  • Diagnostic Equipment: Diagnostic equipment in Operation theatres needs to perform with high precision and thermally reliable state as it involves more safety margin.

Research & Development

  • Various emerging technologies like 5G, Wearable electronics, thermos-electronic devices, the Internet of Things, and Quantum computing use these PCBs in the Research and development phases. The properties of Aluminum Nitride PCBs are being explored in nanostructures and nano-electronic devices.

 

Additional Resources:

    Request for Quote