You think the pace of technology innovation is fast now, wait til you see what’s going to happen with 5G wireless. 5G will drive an Internet of Things (IoT) ecosystem of intelligent, fully connected sensors and devices, capable of improving economies small and large, and further blurring geographical borders.

According to the 2017 Cisco Mobile Visual Networking Index (VNI), 5G networks will be able to support advanced applications such as remote surgery, immersive experiences through virtual and augmented reality, autonomous cars, and so on.” All are game changers in their industries.

By 2021, it is predicted there may be as many as 25 billion 5G-capable devices and connections globally. The first few years of IoT deployment will run mostly on LTE networks using NarrowBand IoT (NB-IoT) and LTE M. But 5G growth is expected to be fast.

The Cisco VNI report states, “While 4G was the network that made smartphones prolific as a personal infotainment device, 5G is going to be network of the IoT. 5G will be capable of offering a new high bandwidth benchmark of 1 Gbps or higher and sub 1 ms latency. Operationally, 5G’s support for dynamic resource allocation and application prioritization will accommodate a variety of M2M devices, including those that require very low bandwidth.”

Today’s cellular networks operate in the 700 MHz to 2.6 GHz bands. Mobile service providers have introduced 4.5G and 4.9G technology to improve speeds immediately. 5G fixed wireless access will follow shortly; Verizon has been running trials in 11 cities. 5G mobile technology will follow shortly; AT&T estimates as soon as late 2018.

5G, when it arrives, is expected to handle far more traffic at much higher speeds than current cell network base stations. This requires new technologies, including millimeter waves (mmWaves), massive MIMO (multiple-input multiple-output), beamforming, and full duplex. Let’s take a look at a few of these key developments.

Millimeter Wave Spectrum

5G networks will be based on millimeter wave technology that can run in the underutilized portions of the 10-300 GHz band. Some cellular providers have begun to use mmWaves to send data between stationary points, such as base stations. Providers are considering the next step, using millimeter waves to connect mobile users to nearby base stations.

They are called mmWaves because the wavelength varies in length from 1 to 10 mm vs. the radio waves that serve today’s wireless devices, which measure tens of centimeters in length. Because these signals are shorter, there are hurdles to overcome. The higher frequencies carry more data, but are easily blocked by buildings and foliage, and sometimes even rain.

Sub-6 GHz Spectrum

Certain frequencies under Sub-6 GHz will be defined as 5G frequencies by 3GPP. That means these defined frequencies will be included in 5G standards and will apply to all countries.

A wide range of 5G trials are underway across the globe. China Mobile recently demonstrated the first 5G remote driving technology using a consumer car. They also completed a commercial Massive MIMO deployment that attained speeds of 2 Gbps.

In Massive MIMO, a high number of antennas, potentially hundreds, are incorporated into advanced chips that are smaller, deliver more processing power, and use less battery. The large number of antennas helps minimize signal loss and energy consumption, and can mitigate obstruction issues by steering signals in specific directions.

The Challenge of High Frequency Materials

Designers of these high frequency devices need to balance cost, weight, size, and radiation characteristics (such as gain, beamwidth, side-lobe levels, polarization). High frequency circuit materials deliver the performance needed by wireless base stations, satellite antennas, and network servers and storage.

PCB materials with dielectric constant (Dk) values of about 2.8 to 3.5 are preferred for sub-6 GHz and millimeter wave circuit applications. The consistency of the Dk across a circuit board can also be an important concern at these frequencies since variations in the Dk can introduce variations in the signal phase. Performance can also be affected by the composition of the PCB material.

Given this challenging set of requirements, what types of real-world materials are suitable for sub-6 GHz and millimeter-wave circuits?

The majority of initial 5G applications will be under 6 GHz, frequencies that are similar to those used in 3G and 4G materials. For such applications:

  • Rogers’ RO4350B laminates provide tight control of Dk and low loss. They are rigid thermoset materials that do not use PTFE, but can achieve excellent RF/microwave performance over time and even at elevated temperatures.
  • The RO4835 laminates are a high-performance material for high-frequency applications, but because it is not based on PTFE, it does not require special preparation (such as a sodium etch) to enable the formation of reliable plated through holes.

For microwave and millimeter wave applications:

  • The RO4730G3™ UL 94 V-0 antenna-grade laminates are designed to meet present and future performance requirements in active antenna arrays and small cells, in 4G base transceiver stations (BTS) and Internet of Things (IoT) applications, as well as emerging 5G wireless systems. These flame-retardant (per UL 94V-0), thermoset laminate materials are an extension of Rogers’ dependable RO4700™ circuit materials, which are a popular choice for base station antennas. RO4730G3 laminates provide the low dielectric constant (Dk) of 3.0 favored by antenna designers, held to a tolerance of ±0.05 when measured at 10 GHz.

Other new technologies are being created to enable the IoT networks that will deliver valuable insight obtained from massive amounts of data:

  • High temperature silicone materials serve as gaskets and seals, cushions, and thermal and acoustic insulation in demanding and remote environments.
  • Laminated multilayer busbars provide efficient and compact connections for propulsion, auxiliary, and other IGBT based converters in connected car and connected rail systems.

5G and sub-6 GHz networks will impact every aspect of our lives. Finding the right balance of material performance and cost is a challenge, especially technologies that is are still being defined.

 

Selected quotes from our recent earnings call. Read the corporate financials news release: Rogers Corporation Reports Second Quarter 2017 Results

In Q2 2017, Rogers achieved another quarter of exceptional net sales and earnings. Net sales were $201 million, an increase of 28% over Q2 2016. This robust performance was driven by double-digit organic growth in each of our three business units. In addition, our recently acquired businesses, DeWal and Diversified Silicone Products (DSP), continue to perform very well. Topline performance combined with our continued focus on operational improvements resulted in an outstanding profit increase.

Bruce Hoechner, CEO, on Innovation Leadership

During the past several years, Rogers has intentionally transformed into a more diverse company by expanding our portfolio through new product innovation, driving geographic penetration and executing on prudent acquisitions. This diversification has helped us perform consistently and deliver steady growth.

A good example of this is in the Advanced Connectivity Solutions (ACS) business. As the telecom market moves towards 4.5G and 5G technologies, this has moderated the 4G/LTE build-out. ACS has been able to maintain growth by taking advantage of other market opportunities, such as automotive safety and aerospace and defense.

  

Bruce Hoechner, CEO, on Growth Drivers

Our market driven focus is helping us advance our position in the markets we serve. One example is our emphasis on developing next generation technology to meet growing demand for wireless data. In e-Mobility, which is a key growth engine for our Power Electronics Solutions (PES) business, consumer demand and a global push to reduce CO2 emissions are contributing to growth for electric vehicle (EV) and hybrid electric vehicle (HEV) products. We are making additional investments to build upon our innovation leadership by adding a third innovation center in Chandler, Arizona which will focus on antenna systems to enhance 4.5G and 5G performance and other promising technologies.

We hold significant market positions in our two key growth areas of advanced mobility and advanced connectivity, which are aligned with our technology portfolio, marketing initiatives, and new product pipeline.

Bruce Hoechner, CEO, on Rogers’ Business Units

Advanced Connectivity Solutions (ACS) achieved second quarter net sales of $74 million, an 11% increase over Q2 2016. Growth in applications for automotive Advanced Driver Assistance Systems (ADAS) and aerospace and defense were partially offset by lower demand for wireless 4G/LTE applications. As we look ahead, we see strong indicators that 5G is gaining traction with the deployment of fixed wireless access. Several major operators are pursuing plans to put high-speed Internet into the home to compete with existing cable and fiber-to-home applications, often referred to as The Last Mile.

We are also well positioned to meet the needs of advanced automotive safety systems as they expand into mass market models. ACS holds a leading market position with a portfolio that spans the full range of customer requirements for short, mid, and long-range radar sensors.

The Elastomeric Material Solutions (EMS) team achieved all time record quarterly sales of $78 million, a 70% increase over Q2 2016. The EMS focus on geographic expansion and market penetration is paying off with healthy demand for general industrial applications across all regions. In portable electronics, we have benefited from a large increase in back pad wins. Our automotive sector is also growing with greater adoption of our sealing and vibration management solutions across a number of leading EV and HEV OEM’s and further penetration of our unique water resistant PORON® foam material into automotive sealing applications.

Power Electronics Solutions (PES) achieved strong Q2 net sales of $44 million, a 14% increase over to 2016. This growth was driven by broad-based demand across all markets, including EV and HEVs, laser diode coolers, renewable energy, and variable frequency motor drives. We continue to see impressive growth in the e-Mobility market, where consumer demand for high performance electric vehicles and government mandates are driving an increase in EV, HEV sales.

Q2 2017 Earnings Call Full Transcript

Q2 2017 Financials Press Release

Q2 2017 Earnings Call Slides

 

As electronic devices continue to shrink in size and increase in power, demand grows for power electronic circuits with higher power density. Increased operating temperatures are one of the tradeoffs of higher circuit power density, resulting in an increase in thermal stress for the circuit materials that serve as substrates for modern power electronic circuits. New processes and materials are available to address these challenges.

Soldering vs Silver Sintering

Soldering can present a number of complications that reduce a circuit’s performance, such as solder bridges and heel cracking. At higher operating temperatures, solder fatigue becomes an issue. Common die attach technologies are based on soft solders with melting points below 250°C. With the development of new generations of semiconductors (e.g. based on wide band gap materials like SiC and GaN), operating temperatures increase to more than 200°C. This will lead to a significant decrease in the solders‘ strength and reliability.

Sintering is a heat treatment process applied to a powdered material in order to give it higher strength and integrity. Silver sintering has become a promising technology for high temperature power electronics packaging as an alternative to soldering.

In the soldering process, heat is applied until a solid reaches its melting point and is then allowed to cool down and solidify to form a bond. In the silver sintering process, heat is applied to a silver paste, resulting in densification. Several actions occur simultaneously, including grain growth, pore growth, and densification, resulting in a stronger bond.

Find out what you need to know about silver sintering in the tech note: curamik® Substrates for Silver Sintering.

PCB Materials for High Power, High Temp Applications

The requirements for PCB materials capable of supporting high-density power electronics circuits are quite challenging, since they include both mechanical and electrical stability at high temperatures.

To meet these demands, curamik® ADVANTAGE provides a ceramic-materials based solution for smaller, higher power-density PCB circuits in power electronic applications. These ceramic substrates provide low dielectric loss and low-loss copper conductors that support high voltages and currents in power-grid, energy, and industrial power applications.

To improve the performance and usability of the substrate materials, all curamik ADVANTAGE products include a choice of plating materials, addition of solder stop to control solder coverage, and treatment for surface roughness. As an alternative to soldering, a state-of-the-art silver sintering process provides an attachment option to solder for critical high-temperature applications

Download the Power Magazine article for more details: Tailoring Circuit Materials for Power Electronic Applications

Watch the curamik ADVANTAGE video:

 

 

Ten company teams, including Rogers Germany, recently came together for the 3rd annual soccer tournament benefitting Heilpädagogisches Zentrum (HPZ), a local organization supporting the mentally handicapped community. HPZ operates several schools in the Pfaffenhofen, Germany area, including the Anna-Kittenbacher School, the Geisenfeld Special Educational Center, the Adolf-Rebl-Schule Development Center for Intellectual Development, an Early Intervention Center, and an array of programs including therapeutic days, social educational days, and open help.

The Rogers Germany team is a regular supporter of HPZ. Also supporting HPZ in the soccer tournament were Siemens Kemnath, Weiden Police, Stadtwerke Weiden, and BHS Corrugated Weiherhammer. The highlight of the tournament was the unified HPZ Team — a mix of players, some who had disabilities and some who did not – who joined in the fight to the victory cup!

The tournament included great soccer games, treats brought by HPZ, and a raffle with lots of great prizes.

While Rogers Germany gave it their all, the final match came down to the Weiden Police vs the unified HPZ Team. Congrats to the Weiden Police, who went on to win. In the end, the HPZ organization was happy and considered the annual charity event a great success! Proceeds from the event went to the HPZ in Irchenrieth, which fosters people with mental and physical disabilities and helps them with integration into society.

Kudos and many thanks to the Rogers Germany team for their passion and dedication to the tournament and to HPZ.

Standing (left to right): Matthias Keck, Benjamin Reiter, Michael Pfleger, André Brunner, and Korcaj Milot. Front (left to right): Markus Walberer, Alexander Schäffler, Daniel Küfner, and Michael Melchner.

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We are delighted to officially open our new Corporate Headquarters here in Chandler, AZ. We are thrilled to call Chandler home and would like to thank all our employees and the Arizona community at large for their support before and during our relocation to Chandler.

This is a time of great opportunity for Rogers

Rogers is a company with a proud tradition of anticipating and adapting to changes in the world around us. And we’ve had a lot of practice! For over 185 years we have always looked to the future: identifying and acting upon the dynamics and trends in markets and technology that can enable us to prosper and grow. The relocation of our Global Headquarters to Chandler embodies our continued orientation towards a bright future.

As The Innovation and Technology Hub of the Southwest, Chandler offers Rogers:

  • A Business-friendly climate and a robust local economy to support our needs.
  • A well-established Infrastructure for future expansion.
  • Easy connections to West Coast technology hubs, which are strategically vital to Roger’s future success.
  • And a strong talent pool across the valley which is a real competitive advantage for us.

We know all this because 2017 represents Rogers 50th year as part of the Chandler business community. Over the years we have had a mutually beneficial relationship with Chandler, Maricopa County, the State of Arizona and our regional business and civic partners all of whom have been extremely supportive as we have grown our presence here. We owe a debt of gratitude to many of you in attendance today for your unwavering assistance and cooperation over many years.

Today we are fulfilling “the promise of Rogers”

We offer advanced products and technology that power, protect and connect our world, from electric automobile drive systems to protective sports equipment to automotive radar sensors to cell phone transceivers and much more. We are at the forefront of the applied materials technology frontier.

Our three businesses, Advanced Connectivity Solutions, Power Electronic Solutions and Elastomeric Materials Solutions are all thriving and growing substantially.

 

Our move here to Chandler could simply not have been possible without the tireless support and hard work of so many of our Rogers’ colleagues.

And finally, we are thankful for the strong support from the Arizona community and business partners:

  • U.S. Congressman Andy Biggs’ Office, District Director, Greg Safsten,
  • Senator Sean Bowie,
  • Representative Jill Norgaard,
  • Mayor Jay Tibshraeny,
  • Vice Mayor Kevin Hartke,
  • Tyler Gentry, VP Business Attraction, Arizona Commerce Authority,
  • Chris Camacho, President/CEO, Greater Phoenix Economic Council (GPEC),
  • Marsha Reed, City Manager, City of Chandler,
  • Nachie Marquez, Assistant City Manager, City of Chandler,
  • Joshua Wright, Assistant City Manager, City of Chandler,
  • Micah Miranda, Economic Development Director, City of Chandler,
  • James Smith, Economic Development Program Manager, City of Chandler,
  • Terri Kimble, President/CEO, Chandler Chamber of Commerce, and
  • Ganesh Moorthy, President and COO of Microchip, and Rogers Board of Directors.

Thank you, everyone!

We are thrilled to call Chandler home as we continue to fulfill the promise of Rogers.

 

 
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