Thin-film technology uses semiconductor and microsystem technology processes to produce circuit boards on ceramic or organic materials. The metal deposition methods used in vacuum processes, and the flexibility that can be achieved in terms of thickness and type of metallization in particular, really set thin-film technology apart from printed circuit board technology.
Interconnection carriers (substrates) in thin-film technology enable extreme connection densities, high-precision geometries of conductors and insulator materials and high thermal conductivity, while offering maximum reliability.
Compared with conventional printed circuit boards and thick-film substrates, however, substrates in thin-film technology usually entail higher costs. Consequently, they are used in cases where cheaper technologies cannot provide an adequate technical solution.
The possibility of a higher track resolution means that the interconnection density on a given space can be increased, thereby achieving higher connectivity compared to the alternatives in thick-film or LTCC technology.
Increasing signal rates in telecommunications means higher operating frequencies, which place greater demands on the quality of the insulator materials and the accuracy of the structures. Thin-film technology is impressive in terms of the usability, for example, of ceramic or quartz glass as a substrate material, and the high structural fidelity that can be achieved with tolerances up to +/-2 µm for the track width.
Moreover, the materials that can be used open up applications, for example, in extreme thermal conditions or within biological bodies, for instance by combining ceramic with gold as a conductor material, enabling the production of biocompatible structures.