Celanese: Fired Up Over Ceramics

Reprinted with permission from I-Connect007. Originally published August 2, 2023. Daniel is interviewed by Nolan Johnson
With the ever-increasing diversity of performance needs in printed circuits, substrates are an ongoing area of development and innovation. At IMS Microwave Week, we caught up with Daniel Barish, a global strategy and west commercial leader at Celanese, to discuss substrates, low temperature co-fired ceramics, in particular.
Nolan Johnson: Daniel, it’s great to talk to you. Would you please introduce the company and the products you manufacture?
Daniel Barish: Celanese is a large chemical manufacturing company based out of Dallas, Texas. Our specific business—Micromax—is a portfolio of conductive inks and paste dielectrics, and substrates like our low temperature co-fired ceramics. Our legacy business was with DuPont, and we were acquired in November 2022. 
Johnson: So, these products have a DuPont history?
Barish: That's correct. We were a DuPont business for about 60 years.
Johnson: Walk me through what you're sharing with customers here at the IMS show.
Barish: We’re promoting our low-temperature co-fired ceramics. These products feature silver conductors, dielectric substrates, all ceramics—they’re good for high reliability, and have years of experience in military applications from radar, avionics, and telecommunications. As we move to higher frequencies, and higher performance requirements, these materials are much better suited. 
Here in San Diego, we’re launching a new ceramic substrate. It's thinner and geared for those high frequency applications in 5G. You can stack up from six to 80 layers of this material, print all the circuitry at one time, and then fire them all together as opposed to traditional processes with multiple steps. We think there are some process and performance advantages of this material.
Johnson: What are some of the adjustments you make to the product in order to work in such challenging conditions?
Barish: Processing this material is pretty straightforward. With equipment, which a lot of the manufacturers already have on hand, you adjust temperatures and the process parameters, then use these materials in a very similar way to make the components and substrates for 5G or for high frequency telecommunications.
Johnson: From your perspective talking to your customers, what are their primary drivers? What are they most interested in right now?
Barish: Performance and innovation. We're just getting started in the realm of 5G mmWave, what that really means, and what that capabilities are. We hear so much about AI, and that will need a whole lot of computing power. We're moving a lot more data, a lot more energy through the circuits, and everybody wants to get smaller and more compact. The challenge is in getting that same performance in a smaller package which actually enables these newer technologies. I think those are the drivers right now. 
From a supply chain standpoint, there has been uncertainty, but it’s smoothing out. Cost is always there, but as we move to cutting-edge technology, cost becomes less of a driver. 
Johnson: What's the right place in the design cycle to specify the use of your materials?
Barish: We think there's a large application around the LEO user terminals and mmWave cells, especially band pass filters, repeaters, antenna in packages, power modules, anything that needs to control the bandwidth, low loss, with good thermal stability in high frequency, and so forth.
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