2024 Project Leadership Awards


Award Criteria

The iNEMI Project Leadership Award is a team award and recognizes the team members and the iNEMI projects that deliver in the any of the following areas: 
  • Superior performance of electronics manufacturing practices  
  • Superior technology and business results 
  • Positive impact on the electronics manufacturing value chain and its ecosystem 

2024 Winner

mmWave Permittivity Reference Material Development Project

Team Members 

Project Leaders
Michael J Hill, Intel
Nate Orloff, NIST
Lucas Enright, NIST
iNEMI Project Manager: Urmi Ray 

Primary Project Team
Benjamin Jamroz, NIST
Say Phommakesone & Daisuke Kato, Keysight
Marzena Olszewska-Placha & Malgorzata Celuch, QWED
Shelby Nelson, Mosaic Microsystems
Hanna Kahari, Nokia
Charlie Hill, 3M
Chiawen Lee & Chang-Sheng Chen, ITRI
Ushio Sangawa, Panasonic
Nakamura Yukio Xills & Ikeda Kenichi, Resonac

Project Overview

The objective of this project was to determine what physical and electrical parameters are required by industry to ensure wide usability of a future NIST traceable permittivity standard reference material (SRM), and to provide those inputs along with documented demand to NIST so that an SRM can be defined and developed. This determination was made through a series of round robin studies conducted in multiple labs around the world. Each study involved hundreds of measurements of individual prototype standards coupled with iterative sequences of fabrication process improvements. By the end of the project, NIST was provided with a set of requirements for the SRM that ensured industry usability, sample manufacturability, sufficient robustness and excellent electrical performance across a wide array of commercially available toolsets. NIST anticipates completing the documentation requirements for an SRM to allow commercial SRM availability sometime in 2024.

Motivation for the Project

Complex permittivity (including loss tangent) is a key electrical parameter that describes the performance of advanced electronic materials. These materials are used in all modern electronic devices and include components like printed circuit boards, antennas, CPU packaging, socket materials and structural epoxies. When this project was started there was no traceable standard for permittivity measurements in the 20-100GHz frequency range. This meant that no commercial permittivity measurement instruments could provide results that were traceable to universal definitions or had traceable error bounds. Measurements at different labs result in values that are different by at least +/- 4% and there is no accepted way to prove which lab result is correct, thus creating problems for the relationship between material suppliers and consumers, and between equipment vendors and equipment users. Further, it limits industry’s ability to control fabrication tolerances and introduces variability in simulation and design models because of the inaccuracies it creates in the material characterizations. Development of a usable traceable standard can address these issues by providing a sample material with a truly known value that can be measured in a wide range of toolsets, thus enabling cross-site tool calibrations to known accuracies.

Project Goals

  • Determine and recommend to NIST a material type and geometric constraints needed for an industry usable SRM 
  • Demonstrate fabrication ability through prototypes
  • Demonstrate industrial usability through two round robin tests at labs around the world
  • Demonstrate that prototype materials meet electrical performance requirements
  • Demonstrate that the prototype fabrication can meet requirements for <1% SRM uncertainties
  • Demonstrate viable industry demand 
  • Achieve buy-in at NIST for completion of SRM certification and production in 2024

Impact on the Electronics Manufacturing Value Chain

Key permittivity equipment vendors, many industry users, and NIST are now in agreement that the lack of standards is a significant gap that limits the accuracy of the world’s best permittivity measurement labs and a path has been created to close this gap. Availability of these SRMs will enable new, potentially revolutionary measurement methods to be developed as there will be samples of known value with which to prove new methods work. Further, availability of these standard materials will allow material vendors and consumers to have consistent, agreed upon material characterization values and measurement variations will be separable from manufacturing tolerances. This will drive the ability of the industry to make more consistent and stable materials and will allow the accuracies of today’s toolsets to be increased. This in turn will increase the accuracy of electrical simulations and designs relying on those measurements.

Benefit/Value to Project Participants

Because this effort allowed individual team participants to share expertise across a wide range of disciplines, in a forum predominantly free of IP and competitive constraints, each participant was able to learn from world leading experts in fields adjacent to their own expertise. This helped identify additional areas for improvement in each of their own laboratories, sparked numerous ideas for future development of new methodologies, and produced ideas that will spread to additional areas. For example, SRM materials can be used to create downstream standards and in-house reference circuitry that individual users may benefit from. Further, team members now have a network of experts to work with in the future when challenges arise.