Design and testing of an orthogonal LCP interconnect for RF applications in high vibration environments
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A new design is presented for a wideband orthogonal interconnect between two perpendicular printed wiring boards, employing novel geometries and materials to minimize stress under cyclic loading. This will ensure fatigue survivability in high vibration environments, opening the door to vertical interconnection in RF circuit design. This is, to the best of knowledge, the first complete design and prototype for an orthogonal interconnect at the board level for broadband RF circuits. An analytical approach is used to define the driving parameters in the stress distribution within a smooth curve joining two perpendicular surfaces using analytical geometries, and Finite Element Analysis is used to finalize the design and ensure all constituent materials in the interconnect are subjected to stresses below their fatigue strength at 10 million cycles at full deflection. A manufacturing process is then proposed using thermoforming to shape the Liquid Crystal Polymer base material into the desired geometry, as well as an assembly solution to mount the interconnect to an RF signal feed card. Finally, a test setup is designed allowing for high cycle fatigue testing within the order of hours, including the capability to monitor performance of the interconnect by tracking DC continuity through a simulated application using a single post design. The prototype interconnect is tested to failure and is shown to survive 18 million cycles of a typical loading application before failure of the LCP springs occurs in the mode predicted by the initial FEA model.