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Ceramic Chip Antennas vs. PCB Trace Antennas: A Comparison

The purpose of a trace antenna on a printed circuit board (PCB) is to provide a method of wireless communication. The trace is laminated on the PCB's surface or, in some cases, the traces can occupy several layers of a multilayer board and vias are used to interconnect the traces on each layer. A ceramic antenna is a separate component that is attached during the final stage in the surface mount process. The article discusses the advantages and disadvantages of each type of antenna and which antenna best fits specific situations.

"Multi-purpose machine-to-machine devices require a high-quality radio interface that will operate in the Zigbee, ISM, and cellular bands including LTE, bands which lie between 700 and 2500 MHz. A trace antenna on a PCB is often the first type of interface considered for one of these applications. However, using a ceramic antenna can be a good or even better alternative," says Lifländer. "In these products, size constraints are more stringent and multiple antennas often need to be placed inside the same device, resulting in the need for high immunity between the antennas. Ceramic antennas enable flexibility in design, overall cost savings in the final product, have fewer problems with interference, and provide improved performance over trace antennas. This paper delves more deeply into these issues.

Author: Jouni Lifländer, RF designer, Pulse Electronics

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