What materials constitute a Printed Circuit Board(PCB)?

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In an electronic system, a Printed Circuit Board (PCB) is a table wherein all possible interacting components of a circuit are kept together in the best possible manner so that they can communicate with each other at the fastest possible speed, have the best heat dissipation and the best use of space as possible. A basic blank PCB consists of cloth or a glass fiber and a plastic resin laminate, with connections made from copper (Cu) which is finally plated with Nickel(Ni) and Gold (Au).  Resistors are mostly made up of a mixture of finely powdered carbon along with an insulator, which is mostly ceramic. Capacitors use dielectric materials, mostly mica and oil owing to their high breakdown strength. The leads for many components are made from Tin(Sn), Copper(Cu) , Silver(Ag), Iron(Fe) or a mixture of these. These components are held in place by a material called as solder.

Nowadays, due to environmental challenges, lead (Pb) free solders are used, so alloys of Tin-Silver-Copper are used. Transformers, used to supply power to the circuit contain Ferrite cores with well calculated turns of polymer insulated copper wires. The Integrated Circuit(IC) chips used mostly contain Silicon along with trace impurities Boron, Phosphorous and Germanium. The casing for the chips consists of polymers. Other materials for devices include but are not limited to Gallium, Arsenic, Tungsten, Tantalum, Hafnium, Oxygen, Indium, Zinc and many many more. Material scientist have to set materials like a Jigsaw to make them work as they want to work. A single misalignment or impurities can easily cause the whole system to collapse. No wonder material scientists are amongst one of the highest paid professionals in the semiconductor industry. The amount of material science that goes into electronics is mind boggling.


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