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Thin Film Resistors vs. Thick Film Resistor

Author: William
Date: 6 Jan 2023
 178
thin film resistors

Overview of a Thin Film Resistor

Overview of a Thick Film Resistor

Video related to Thin Film Resistors versus Thick Film Resistor

Construction of a Thin Film Resistor

Construction of a Think Film Resistor

Thin Film Resistor Fabrication

Thick Film Resistor Fabrication

Thin Film Technology VS Thick Film Technology

Thin Versus Thick Film properties

Thin Film Resistor VS Thick Film Resistor

Thin Film Resistor Vs Thick Film Resistor Advantages

Thin Film Resistor Vs Thick Film Resistor Disadvantages

Comparison between the thin film resistor and thick film resistor

Conclusion of Thin Film Resistor Vs Thick Film Resistor

Wirewound precision resistors vs. Thin Film Resistor

Thin Film Resistors vs. Thick Film Resistor FAQ

 

Overview of a Thin Film Resistor

A thin resistive layer is present on top of a ceramic substrate in thin film resistors, a particular kind of resistor. The resistive layer's thickness is the main distinction between thick and thin film resistors, with thin films having a thickness of about 0.1 microns. Thick film resistors, in contrast, can be up to 1000 times thicker (usually around 100 microns). Although this is the primary category difference, thick and thin film resistors have varied characteristics and are made using various fabrication techniques due to the enormous thickness disparities. Thin film resistors can be employed in higher precision technologies because, on average, they are more accurate, precise, and stable. However, this does make them more expensive than their thick film counterparts.

Thin Film Resistor

 

Overview of a Thick Film Resistor

Thin film resistor definition: This kind of resistor differs from others by having a thick film resistive layer covering a ceramic base. Despite having a similar appearance to thin-film resistors, this resistor is made using a separate technique, and it has different physical properties. In terms of thickness, the thick film resistor is 1000 times thicker than the thin film resistor.

Thick Film Resistor

 

Video Description: This video is mainly talk about the differences between the thin film resistors and thick film resistors. If you want to get more detailed information about them, you can look at my blog and this video.

 

Construction of a Thin Film Resistor

The film resistor can be created by sputtering the resistive material over ceramic. The required etching techniques and ultraviolet radiation can then be used to etch the surface. Several different materials, including tantalum nitride, lead oxide, nickel-chromium, and ruthenium oxide, are used to create this resistor. After that, the engraved film can be cut with lasers.

Construction of a Thin Film Resistor

The resistance is dependent on the film's width, though this can be altered using laser trimming if necessary. The idea remains the same, even if the final components are more frequently referred to as thin film resistors than metal film resistors because of parasitic inductance. On the other hand, the film can be sputtered through axial leads onto a cylindrical face.

 

Construction of a Think Film Resistor

A thick film resistor can be produced by silk-screening conductive paste onto an insulating substrate. This conductive paste can be burned to establish a long-lasting connection. The paste contains a finely divided version of an inorganic ceramic resistor element, glass frit, and silver. The paste is applied over a ceramic base consisting of glass frit, aluminum oxide powder, and a small amount of an organic binder to hold the powder together during firing.

These resistors are available in small sizes and are affordable in big quantities. This is significant for integrated and hybrid circuits because by printing the resistors directly into the substrate, board loading and soldering are not required.

Construction of a Think Film Resistor

These resistors can tolerate temperatures of up to 300 °C and are completely non-magnetic. As a result, they are used in MRI and CT scanners as well as other locations with strong magnetic fields. Versions of thick film resistors without nickel or tin are acceptable for silver epoxy attachment or lead-free soldering. Low voltage coefficients of resistance, which can be defined as the fluctuation in resistance with respect to the applied voltage within a specific range of voltage, are a trait shared by all of these resistors. Thick film resistors provide the highest resistance levels—up to 10 tera ohms—and the best performance at very high temperatures.

 

Thin Film Resistor Fabrication

The thermal stability of the resistor at 350°C is remarkable, according to tests on the thermal stability and dependability of Ti/TiN thin-film resistors. According to electrical studies, the "Ti" layer has less electrical resistance than the TiN layer. It is also feasible to use Joule heating to thermally activate the resistor's main breakdown mechanism.

The activation of thermal energy can be determined to be 1.3 eV and 1.8 eV, respectively, for the Ti layer failure and the TiN layer failure. According to these results, Ti/TiN thin film resistors should stay electrically stable for at least 10 years if the temperature is kept below 311°C.

Coatings like titanium and titanium nitride are frequently used as diffusion barriers, anti-reflective layers, and adhesive layers in silicon microelectronic technology. Additionally, the creation of thin-film resistors for MMICs and RFICs (radio frequency integrated circuits) uses these two films (monolithic microwave integrated circuits). The main characteristics of thin film resistors are TCR, or temperature coefficient of resistance, thermal stability, reliability performance, and specific resistivity.

Engineers have studied the possibility of titanium and tantalum nitrides as thin-film resistors. The dependability of these resistors utilized in semiconductor circuits hasn't, however, received much scrutiny. Additionally, the TiN layer is deposited prior to the first "Ti" layer because it acts as a wetting layer during the manufacture of resistors. The Ti/TiN loaded thin film resistors' stability & reliability study qualities are limited.

 

Thick Film Resistor Fabrication

Conductor and resistor "pastes" are screened and fired onto hard substrates, often alumina, to create thick film components. Alumina used in thick-film technology is less pure (95%) than that used in thin-film technology (99%). The temperature at which fires often ignite is 850 degrees Celsius. Typically, a ruthenium, iridium, or rhenium oxide, NOT carbon, makes up the resistor material. The term "cermet" (a combination of ceramic and metallic) is sometimes used to describe the resistor material. The black color of the resistor body has nothing to do with the carbon element; in other cases, the color of the resistor has been described as dark green. A black-colored film that has white text printed on it covers the resistive element to generate contrast.

Thin-film hybrid networks, low-temperature co-fired ceramic (LTCC) parts, and chip resistors of different sizes for surface mount technology (SMT) can all be manufactured using thick film resistors. Cheap surface-mount chip resistors are virtually exclusively produced using the thick film method. In contrast to the majority of thin-film methods, which are subtractive, thick film is an additive process (chemical etching). Before resistors are deposited in some thick film components, a conductor pattern is printed and burned beforehand. Similar to how Grateful Dead t-shirts are created, the conductor and resistor components are placed using a screen-printing technique and a squeegee. Because it is a "low-tech" process compared to thin-film resistors, and the substrate material is lower cost, thick film resistors are almost always less expensive than thin-film.

 

Thin Film Technology VS Thick Film Technology

Thin Film Technology

Vacuum deposition is used to sputter the resistive layer onto a ceramic substrate. A homogenous metallic layer of around 0.1 um thickness is produced as a result. Nichrome, an alloy of nickel and chromium, is frequently employed. Different layer thicknesses are used to create thin film resistors in order to accommodate a variety of resistance values. Due of the layer's uniformity and density, a subtractive method can be used to reduce the resistance value. To expand the resistive path and calibrate the resistance value, patterns are made in the film using photo etching or laser trimming. Glass, silicon, or alumina ceramic are frequently used as bases. Thin film can be applied on a cylinder base with axial leads in addition to the more common chip or SMD resistor form.

Thin Film resistor schematic

Typically, thin film is applied in precise applications. They have low temperature coefficients, low noise levels, and generally high tolerances. Moreover, thin film outperforms thick film in high frequency applications. Capacitance and inductance are typically smaller. When constructed as a cylindrical helix, thin film can have a greater parasitic inductance (metal film resistor). The cost of thin film resistors can be significantly higher than the cost of thick film resistors due to their higher performance. Medical equipment, audio installations, precision controls, and measuring equipment are common examples of applications for thin film resistors.

 

Thick Film Technology

Thick film resistors began to become more popular in the 1970s. These resistors are currently by far the most common ones used in electrical and electronic devices. They are the cheapest technology as compared to other technologies and are often packaged as a surface mount (SMD) chip resistor.

The metal oxides to be deposited, a binder, and a carrier are all combined to create a specific paste that serves as the resistive material. Glassy frit serves as the binder, whereas organic solvent systems and plasticizers make up the carrier. Today's resistor pastes are made from ruthenium, iridium, and rhenium oxides. Additionally known as a cermet (Ceramic – Metallic). At 850 °C, the resistive layer is printed onto a substrate. The substrate is frequently ceramic made of 95% alumina. The film is effectively protected against moisture since it turns into glass after the paste is fired on the carrier. The graph below schematically shows the entire firing procedure. The thickness is on the order of 100 um. This is approximately 1000 times more than thin film. Unlike thin film, this manufacturing process is additive. This means that the resistive layers are added sequentially to the substrate to create the conducting patterns and resistance values.

Thick Film resistor schematic

Thin Film resistor graph

Typically, the temperature coefficient falls between 50 and 200 ppm/°C. The range of tolerances is 1% to 5%. Thick film is typically preferable in applications that provide more tolerance in the resistance value, higher TCR, or lesser stability because prices are low. As a result, these resistors are present in practically every gadget that has an AC plug or a battery. In addition to being less expensive, thick technology has the advantages of being able to handle more power, offer a larger range of resistance values, and endure severe surge situations.

 

Thin Versus Thick Film properties

Characteristic Thin Film Thick Film
Film thickness (µm) ±0.1 ±100
Manufacturing process Sputtering (Vacuum Deposition) Screen and stencil printing
Trimming Abrasive or Laser, for complex patterns photo etching Abrasive or Laser
Resistive Material Uniform metallic film, usually Nichrome Paste of Ruthenium Oxide or other alloy.
Resistance Values (Ω) 0.2 – 20 M 1 – 100 M
Tolerance (%) ±0.1 - ±2 ±1 - ±5
Temperature Coefficient (ppm/°C) ±5 - ±50 ±50 - ±200
Maximum Operating Temperature (°C) 155 155
Maximum Operating Voltage Umax (V) 50 - 500 50 – 200
Non-linearity (dB) >110 >50
Current Noise (µV/V) <0.1 <10
Power Rating P 70 (W) 1/16 – 1 1/16 – 1/4
Stability at P 70 (1000 h) ∆R/R % ±0.15 - ±0.5 ±1 - ±3

 

Thin Film Resistor VS Thick Film Resistor

Thin film and thick film resistors are distinguished based on the resistive layer that is used on the foundation or ceramic substrate. Despite the fact that these two resistors seem to be similar, their properties and manufacturing process have been changed. These resistors' names can be linked to the thickness of their layer(s). A thin-film resistor can be distinguished from a thick-film resistor by the following features.

Thin Film Resistor

Thick Film Resistor

This resistor is made by depositing a homogeneous, dense layer of a metallic alloy onto a ceramic substrate while it is under vacuum. Therefore, this layer functions as the resistive layer.

This resistor can be made by firing a paste into the substrate during the production process. In this case, glass and metal oxides make up the paste.

The price of manufacture is high.

The price of manufacture is not high.

It has a lower capacitance.

It has a greater capacitance.

This resistor's tolerance is lower.

The tolerance of these resistors is higher.

The temperature coefficient is smaller in the thin-film resistor.

There is a high-temperature coefficient in a thick film resistor.

On an insulating substrate, a metallic film is part of these resistors.

These resistors are made by applying a specific paste to the substrate and burning it, which contains a mixture of glass and metal oxides.

The resistive layer employed in this resistor has a thickness of 0.1 micrometer.

This resistor's resistive layer is a thousand times thicker than other resistive layers.

This resistor uses a thin film as its resistance layer.

This resistor uses a thick film as its resistance layer.

 

Thin Film Resistor Vs Thick Film Resistor Advantages

Thin-Film Resistor  Thick-Film Resistor 
These resistors achieve much less resistor temperature coefficients & tolerances. High resistance values, economical, and more compact
They have less noise, lower capacitance & lower parasitic inductance. Temperature performance is very high.
The electrical performance of these resistors is high. Voltage capability is high.
High-frequency response. Non-inductive inherently.
It provides a high power rating. High precision & reliability.
It has less noise. Efficient Package and packaging is completely encapsulated.
These resistors can be trimmed for accuracy. A wider range of temperatures.

 

Thin Film Resistor Vs Thick Film Resistor Disadvantages

Thin-Film Resistor  Thick-Film Resistor 
These components are delicate. These resistors need to overcoat frequently with borosilicate glass to guard them against chemical attack, environmental effects, etc.
High cost. These are not strong.
Need to handle very carefully. These resistors are very sensitive to electrostatic discharge voltages.

 

Thin Film Resistor Vs Thick Film Applications

Thin-Film Resistor Applications Thick-Film Resistor Applications
The function of a thin-film resistor is to use in applications where high accuracy, low noise, and high stability are required. These applications may include different equipment like measurement, test, medical, monitoring, instrumentation, precision, and audio applications. These resistors are available almost in every electrical device which has an AC plug or a battery,
These resistors are used in precision applications. These resistors are most frequently used in electronic & electrical devices.
These resistors are used to control the op-amps gain and some other applications are stable voltage division, stable reference, ADC or DAC, and stable feedback loops The normal PC includes above 1000 thick film resistors.
These resistors within a network form provide extra benefits in performance. Such applications may include test and measurement equipment, monitoring equipment, medical equipment, audio applications, precision controls and instrumentation. 
Thin-film resistors are used where higher precision is necessary like equipment monitoring & measuring in the aerospace & medical fields, audio computer chips, RF applications, telecommunications, power supply converters, HVAC systems, etc. Thick film resistors are used on literally every type of electrical device; if it has a battery or an AC plug, it will probably have a thick film resistor.

 

Comparison between the thin film resistor and thick film resistor

Starting with a ruthenium oxide paste screen printed onto a ceramic substrate, thick film resistive elements are made. Compared to a thin film resistive element, the resistive element is thousands of times thicker. Standard tolerances are 1% and 5%, and typical TCR ranges from 100 ppm to 400 ppm. Although it is much more expensive than the RMCF, the RGC series of semi-precision thick film chip resistors has a tolerance range of 0.5% and 50 ppm. After being fired, thick film resistor elements take on the properties of glass, making them naturally water-resistant.

Applications that demand high stability, high accuracy, or low noise frequently use thin film resistors. Examples of such applications include instrumentation, precise controls, monitoring, audio applications, and test and measurement equipment. Almost every kind of electrical gadget uses thick film resistors; if it has a battery or an AC plug, it presumably has one as well. For instance, there are already more than 1200 chip resistors in the average PC, the majority of which are thick film chip resistors. Thick film resistors will always be the preferred resistive choice in any circuit design until there are stability, precision, or noise considerations.

 

Conclusion of Thin Film Resistor Vs Thick Film Resistor

In comparison to thick film devices, thin film resistors are able to attain substantially lower tolerances, resistor temperature coefficients, noise, parasitic inductance, and capacitance. Thin film resistors have traditionally been much more expensive to produce than their thick film resistor relatives because of these superior qualities; however, advancements in mass production methods and operating environments have significantly decreased the cost to produce high-quality, precision thin film chip resistors. The CAR series resistors from Riedon are offered with temperature coefficient ratings of 25 ppm/°C and tolerances to 0.01%.

 

Wirewound precision resistors vs. Thin Film Resistor

Thin film devices are less accurate (>0.01%), have higher TCR (20-200ppm/°C), and are less stable (200-600ppm/ year) than wirewound precision resistors, but they come in small packaging, are inexpensive in large quantities, and work well in high frequency and fast rise time applications. Therefore, the application is crucial when choosing a precision resistor technology, as shown in table 3. Thin film materials are best if the application calls for rapid rising times (microseconds) or high frequencies (megahertz). Use thin films if price is the only factor. In addition, the additional cost of a few precision resistors will have a negligible overall cost impact on a board consisting of standard components. If size is critical, as in hybrid circuits and chip applications, thin films have the advantage.

Properties of Wirewound precision resistors verus Thin Film Resistor

 

Thin Film Resistors vs. Thick Film Resistor FAQ

What is the difference between thin and thick film resistors?

Vacuum deposition of a metallic layer on an insulating substrate makes up thin film resistors. A specific paste is applied to the substrate by fire to create thick film resistors. Metal oxides and glass are combined to make the paste. Thin film is more stable, more precise, and has a superior temperature coefficient.

 

Why thin films are better than thick films?

Thin films made from materials can be easily integrated into a variety of devices. Although thin films are quite rigid and have a high thermal stability, they are brittle. Organic materials, on the other hand, are robust but soft and have a reasonable thermal stability.

 

What can the thin-film resistors be used for?

The use of a thin-film resistor is intended for high precision, low noise, and highly stable applications. These applications may contain a variety of instruments, including measurement, test, medical, monitoring, instrumentation, precision, and audio applications. These resistors are used in precise applications. Stable voltage division, stable references, ADC or DAC, and stable feedback loops are other applications for these resistors. They can also be used to change an op-gain. amp's The networked structure of these resistors offers improved performance. Thin-film resistors are used in areas where higher accuracy is required, such as in HVAC systems, audio computer chips, power supply converters, RF applications, the aerospace and medical industries, and telecommunications.

 

What can the thick-film resistors be used for?

Examples of such applications include instrumentation, precise controls, monitoring, audio applications, and test and measurement equipment. Almost every kind of electrical gadget uses thick film resistors; if it has a battery or an AC plug, it presumably has one as well.

 

What are two types of film resistors?

Metal film resistors come in two different varieties: thick film types, where the resistive element is a heated and burnt metal-based paste, and thin film kinds, where the resistive element is a metal vapor deposition film.

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