Stripline

Cross-section diagram of stripline geometry. Central conductor (A) is sandwiched between ground planes (B and D). Structure is supported by dielectric (C).

Stripline is a transverse electromagnetic (TEM) transmission line medium invented by Robert M. Barrett of the Air Force Cambridge Research Centre in the 1950s.

Description

A stripline circuit uses a flat strip of metal which is sandwiched between two parallel ground planes. The insulating material of the substrate forms a dielectric. The width of the strip, the thickness of the substrate and the relative permittivity of the substrate determine the characteristic impedance of the strip which is a transmission line. As shown in the diagram, the central conductor need not be equally spaced between the ground planes. In the general case, the dielectric material may be different above and below the central conductor.

To prevent the propagation of unwanted modes, the two ground planes must be shorted together. This is commonly achieved by a row of vias running parallel to the strip on each side.

Like coaxial cable, stripline is non-dispersive, and has no cutoff frequency. Good isolation between adjacent traces can be achieved more easily than with microstrip. Stripline provides for enhanced noise immunity against the propagation of radiated RF emissions, at the expense of slower propagation speeds when compared to microstrip lines. The effective permittivity of striplines equals the relative permittivity of the dielectric substrate because of wave propagation only in the substrate. Hence striplines have higher effective permittivity in comparison to microstrip lines, which in turn reduces wave propagation speed (see also velocity factor) according to

$v_\mathrm{p} = \frac{c_0}{\sqrt{\epsilon_{\mathrm{r,eff}}}}.$

Alternatives

Microstrip is similar to stripline transmission line except that the microstrip is not sandwiched, it is on a surface layer, above a ground plane.

Stripline is more expensive to fabricate than microstrip, and because of the second groundplane, the strip widths are much narrower for a given impedance and board thickness than for microstrip.

Stripline, now used as a generic term, was originally a proprietary brand of Airborne Instruments Laboratory Inc. (AIL). The version as produced by AIL was essentially air insulated with just a thin layer of dielectric material - just enough to support the conducting strip. The conductor was printed on both sides of the dielectric. The more familiar version with the space between the two plates completely filled with dielectric was originally produced by Sanders Associates who marketed it under the brand name of triplate.[1]