The demand for cost effective LTCC systems has led to increasing use of silver based thick film conductors for inner layers of RF modules. There exists some level of concern about the reliability of silver as a conducting material for electronic circuit packaging. This arises from the tendency of silver to migrate under the influence of electric fields when subjected to certain favorable environment conditions. However, previous research has shown that if silver is used in a properly designed LTCC system on inner layers, the LTCC dielectric forms a hermetic seal around the circuit pattern, which leads to a highly reliable circuit and a low cost solution. This paper describes the results of an investigation to characterize and quantify the impact of silver migration on real-life microwave systems fabricated with DuPont GreenTape 951 LTCC material system with silver metallization. A buried multilayer filter was chosen from an actual production design in a high-reliability application, and was tested at 15W of continuous RF power at 1.5 GHz under 85°C/85% temperature and relative humidity. The chosen test conditions were meant to simulate actual operating conditions encountered by the circuit in real-world, high reliability applications. The focus of this work is to collect useful operational information under environmental stresses encountered in typical applications. To this effect, unlike previously reported work [1 ], [2 ], [3 ] by proponents of silver, the work described in this paper is not forcing silver to migrate, but rather tries to evaluate the performance of an actual application circuit fabricated with silver under high-reliability test conditions and high power, high frequency RF excitation. Material characterization data as well as RF performance data – in terms of S parameters and power delivered – indicates no evidence of detrimental effects or performance impairments due to silver migration or other mechanisms.

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