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Measuring the Bulk Dielectric Constant (Dk) on a Microstrip with a TDR

Updated: Mar 18, 2022

Most modern circuit designs depend on accurate logic signals at the logic receiver. This assurance is based on the careful design of the signal path impedance, including printed circuit board (PCB) transmission lines, interconnects, vias, and cables.

If you have designed a controlled impedance transmission line based on a PCB stack-up, how do you know if the PCB fabrication house or another vendor built your stack-up to meet your controlled impedance specification? In fact, we have found, even after discussion with various laminate manufacturers, that the majority of dielectric constants specified in the vendor datasheet have uncertainty, with a lot of variability. This creates a call to action to measure these materials to get it right.

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