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June 2001

Adhesives for Dielectric Resonator Assemblies

by John Deriso, Senior Applications Engineer, Trans-Tech Incorporated

isclaimer: Trans-Tech is fre-
quently asked for recommenda-
tions regarding adhesives to
bond Dielectric Resonators (DRs) to
substrates, metal cavity floors, ceramic
supports, or other materials. We do not
assume the role of adhesive consultants
(except where our proprietary assem-
blies are concerned), but we can offer a
few suggestions based upon industry
trends. We do not profess broad knowl-
edge of adhesives technology, nor of
vendors for qualified adhesives, but we
do indeed have specific experience in
bonding our DRs to our Alumina,
Fosterite, and Cordierite supports.
Ultimately, the suitability of any specif-
ic bond must be determined by the user
for his particular applications.

Adhesive Evaluation Criteria

1. Qu degradation Generally, a sim-
ple figure for loss tangent is not suffi-
cient to judge an adhesive, and data
will seldom be available at the for this mode. In less critical lower-Qu thin spacer, with bond line that must be
microwave frequency of use. The applications such as dielectric res- process-controlled, between the res-
adhesive’s dielectric loss, and therefore onator oscillators where only a thin onator and the support. This space is
the Qu of the resonator/support assem- substrate intervenes between the DR filled with a dielectric constant lower
bly, is sensitive to the RF mode, which and RF ground, the dielectric loss of than the ceramic, and that effect must
might be important if the adhesive is in the adhesive may be inconsequential, be verified experimentally.
a strong E-field where dielectric losses because the DR is generally spaced 3. Differential expansion rates at
matter. Most critical are high-Qu appli- fairly close to the cavity floor. In this the bond interface The adhesive must
cations such as narrowband filters, case, the current losses in the cavity accommodate the effective thermal
where the DR Qu is kept high with floor may dominate, resulting in an expansion mismatch, which is a com-
low-loss supports and substantial dis- observed Qu substantially below the bination of the material linear expan-
tance to metal cavity walls. In this catalog-specified DR value. The adhe- sion coefficient, the thermal conductiv-
case, for modes such as TE01δ, the the sive will have minimal effect in this ity of the resonator and support materi-
dielectric loss of the adhesive between low-Qu case. als, the mass of the DR and support,
the DR and its support is very critical, 2. Effect on DR frequency and the heating/cooling rate. Don’t
and is quite dependent upon the vol- Adhesives will pull the DR frequency. assume that simply matching tempera-
ume of adhesive used. The interface It’s possible for the frequency to go up ture coefficients is enough. What’s
between the support and the metal or down, depending upon the mode, often overlooked is thermal mass. A
floor (if adhesive is used there) is much the adhesives’ dielectric constant, and thin-wall, tubular Alumina support
less influential for RF losses, because how the adhesive interacts with the E- may actually expand faster in time than
the E-field at that boundary is very low fields. The adhesive will behave as a a more massive dielectric resonator

“Trans-Tech provides assemblies of DRs bonded to

supports as a service to its customers.”
attached to it, even if the linear expan- accentuating the surface imperfections. Bonding Large DRs
sion coefficients are nearly matched. 9. Strength Will the bond hold DR assemblies intended for 800MHz
This is particularly true with large DRs through temperature cycling and to perhaps 2 GHz are massive; CA-
used for 850 to 950 MHz. Do pay mechanical stress? We recommend that type adhesives are probably not appro-
attention to linear thermal expansion the user perform his own tests such as priate. ARALDITE, mentioned previ-
mismatches between the surfaces to be shear or pull strength, and temperature ously, although fine for ceramic to
bonded. Our DRs are typically in the 8 cycling. ceramic joints, is not very flexible to
to 10 ppm/°C expansion coefficient 10. Safety and handling precau- accommodate differential thermal
range, while Alumina is approximately tions Are ventilated hoods required? Is expansion rates, such as Alumina to
6 ppm/°C. An Aluminum chassis will the adhesive or its vapors a skin or eye aluminum. And if plastics are used for
expand much more, at a 24 ppm/°C irritant? Are there any potentially toxic supports, the thermal expansion coeffi-
rate, and probably at a faster rate than products from curing and/or excess tem- cient of the plastic is almost certainly
the ceramic support fixed to it. perature exposure? Make sure to avoid many times that of the ceramic res-
4. Useful operating (service) tem- disposal ordinance problems by proper- onator. The designer is cautioned to
perature range What is the heat ly handling the empty containers. evaluate the bond with thermal cycling
resistant rating of the adhesive? Will and pull/shear tests. Almost any epoxy
the bond hold its mechanical strength Bonding Small DRs will degrade the assembly Qu and the
through repeated temperature cycles? We include in this category parts effect is volume-related. The bond line
Qualification testing should be consid- which might be used at perhaps 5 GHz has to be carefully process-controlled
ered, including accelerated life-cycle and above, or DR diameters 0.400" to minimize RF losses, while still pre-
thermal swings. (10 mm) or smaller. Loctite 499 is a serving mechanical strength.
5. Sensitivity to solvents Will sur- popular fast-setting, 1-part cyano-
face preparation cleaning solvents leave acrylic (CA) type adhesive which is Proprietary Assemblies
a residue that will affect bond strength? used by many commercial satellite Trans-Tech provides assemblies of
Will the adhesive bond be affected by LNB receiver manufacturers. We find DRs bonded to supports as a service to
cleaning later in the manufacturing DRs bonded directly to soft substrates its customers. We are equipped for
cycle? Don’t assume that a simple clean- such as the Rogers, Taconic, or Arlon high-volume assembly of small DRs
ing step won’t leave a residue. products. In many cases, an Alumina (0.400" diameter or less) to plastic or
6. Cure time Will parts to be joined support is bonded to the substrate, and ceramic supports. Specifically, we
have to be fixtured to prevent move- the DR to the support, with CA adhe- have shipped hundreds of thousands of
ment, or to insure bond line thickness, sives. Loctite 4212 is another choice bonded cellular radio base station DR
during cure? Parts that shift position with a slightly wider temperature assembles operating in the 850 MHz
during curing might cause electrical range. Products intended for outdoor through 2 GHz range. Trans-Tech has
performance problems later, especially use are typically shielded from weath- heavy investment in the required
if concentricity of the assembly is er with O-ring sealed construction. processes, including adhesive storage
important. Loctite has a technical assistance and handling, surface preparations,
7. Storage life Will adhesive be number, 1-800-LOCTITE, and a web- adhesive dispensing, alignment fixtur-
consumed before shelf life expires? site,, where ing, curing, and electrical and
Are special storage temperatures the properties of these adhesives may mechanical testing including qualifi-
required? Make sure proper storage be found. In our experience, Ciba- cation tests. Generic versions of quali-
facilities exist before the adhesive Geigy ARALDITE AW-106/HV-953 fication test reports are available for
arrives on the loading dock. General Purpose Adhesive is much qualified customers. We are keenly
8. Requirements for surface prepa- stronger than the Loctite CA series. aware of the process control required
ration Do the surfaces to be bonded We have seen ARALDITE used to to minimize DR Qu degradation while
require roughening or chemical treat- bond DRs to Fosterite or Alumina sup- still insuring a high-strength bond,
ment to insure the desired bond ports, and the bond strength is such mechanical alignment, and accuracy
strength? Find out what effect this that not even high heat will break it of the assembly’s resonant frequency.
might have on the resonator’s Qu. down. When high heat is intentionally It must be appreciated that the specific
Roughened surfaces can be a disaster used for disassembly, often the ceram- adhesives and processes we use are
where RF currents flow on a metal sur- ic cracks before the bond, possibly due proprietary to Trans-Tech.
face, and high-conductivity plating may to excessive mismatch in effective
actually aggravate the problem by expansion rates. TRANS–TECH