NEWS RELEASE: 5G/6G MAESTRO Publishes Roadmap on Low Loss Dielectric Materials Characterization

The NIST-funded 5G/6G mmWave Materials & Electrical Test Technology Roadmap has published the first of two roadmap documents. This first publication focuses on characterization of low loss dielectric materials.


MORRISVILLE, NC USA (August 18, 2023) — The International Electronics Manufacturing Initiative (iNEMI) announces the availability of the Low Loss Dielectric Materials Characterization Roadmap, which is part of the 5G/6G mmWave Materials and Electrical Test Technology Roadmap (5G/6G MAESTRO).  Request a copy of the roadmap.

MAESTRO, managed by iNEMI, is a joint industry/academia project sponsored by the NIST Office of Advance Manufacturing's Advanced Manufacturing Technology (MfgTech) Roadmap Program. The MAESTRO team is developing a comprehensive 10-year hardware roadmap for mmWave materials development and electrical characterization and test, along with an implementation strategy to execute the vision of the roadmap and promote the growth of a strong U.S. workforce in radio frequency (RF) communication technologies. This first of two documents comprising the roadmap focuses on materials characterization of low loss dielectric materials. The second document will cover materials development and electrical test. 


The Need for Low-loss Dielectric Materials Characterization and Traceable Standard Reference Materials 

Several industry reports and roadmaps have identified development and characterization of materials for mmWave among the greatest technical challenges for 5G hardware implementations. Reliable, repeatable and fast low loss material characterization and testing are critical. Circuit designers need dielectric property data for materials at millimeter-wave (mmWave) frequencies to optimize device performance of new hardware and for quality assurance. 

Furthermore, traceable standard reference materials are needed to accurately characterize materials. Manufacturers often must extrapolate low-frequency data to 5G mmWave frequencies when they accept new material from vendors. Such extrapolation can lead to disagreements between values specified by the vendor and values measured by manufacturers and can result in unpredictable performance of deployed hardware. A key root cause for these major discrepancies is the lack of traceable reference material for mmWave frequencies. This gap makes verification of measurement methods and laboratory techniques impossible in an industry setting. 

Michael J. Hill, Principal Engineer at Intel, explains that 5G and beyond will utilize materials that are different from what the industry is using today, and development of new materials requires the ability to evaluate the performance of those materials at use condition. Semiconductor products, equipment suppliers, and material manufacturers have significant exposure if characterizations are incorrect, particularly for products that are manufactured in high volumes. 

“Advanced low loss materials often come with significant cost adders,” says Hill. “If a new material is $2 per unit more expensive than an existing material, we must be able to accurately assess the performance benefit this $2 will provide. If metrology errors overestimate the benefit of this new material, we could incorrectly move to the new material and suffer a $40 million dollar error when this cost is applied to a product line shipping 20 million units.”

The MAESTRO roadmap looks at the needs, challenges, current technology capabilities and potential solutions for characterization of low loss dielectric materials. A summary of needs and challenges is shown in Table 1. 


About iNEMI

The International Electronics Manufacturing Initiative (iNEMI) is an industry-led consortium that forecasts and accelerates innovation in the electronics manufacturing supply chain. Composed of leading manufacturers, suppliers, industry associations and consortia, government agencies and universities, iNEMI roadmaps the needs of the electronics industry, identifies gaps in the technology infrastructure, and helps eliminate those gaps through timely, high-impact collaborations among our members. These collaborations support our members' businesses and help drive the industry by accelerating the deployment of new technologies, developing industry infrastructure, stimulating standards development, and disseminating efficient business practices. iNEMI is based in Morrisville, North Carolina, USA. For additional information, visit