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22 The PCB Design Magazine • February 2015 by Barry Olney In-CIrCuIt DesIgn Pty LtD BeyOnd design effects of surface Roughness on High-speed PCBs At frequencies below 1GHz, the effect of copper surface roughness on dielectric loss is negligible. However, as frequency increases, the skin effect drives the current into the sur- face of the copper, dramatically increasing loss. When the copper surface is rough, the effective conductor length extends as current follows along the contours of the surface up and down with the topography of the copper surface. At high frequencies, the effective resistance of the copper increases relative to the additional dis - tance over which the current must transverse the contours of the surface. The total loss com- prises of the sum of the conductor loss and di- electric loss. Whilst it may be possible to manufacture copper foil with a perfect mirror-smooth fin- ish, the foil-to-resin adhesion would be com- promised. This would considerably increase the possibility of delamination during the thermal stress of the PCB fabrication and assembly pro- cesses. For this reason, a reduced oxide coating is applied to the inner core layers to promote adhesion of the prepreg resin as it flows under the applied heat and pressure to cure. Skin effect is the tendency of an alternating current to become distributed within a conduc- tor such that the current density is largest near the surface, and decreases with greater depths in the conductor. The higher the frequency, the greater the tendency for current to take the path of lower inductance on the outer surface of the conductor. The skin depth is given by: where is the skin depth in microns, f is the frequency in MHz, is the magnetic permeabil- feature coulmn

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