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Hydrocarbon Resins: Powering the Next Generation of High-Speed PCBs

The commonly utilized resins in high-speed and high-frequency copper-clad laminates encompass modified epoxy, PTFE, polyimide, bismaleimide resin, polyphenylene ether (PPO), hydrocarbon resin, etc. Among these, hydrocarbon resin emerges as a polyolefin homopolymer or copolymer consisting solely of carbon (C) and hydrogen (H) elements within its molecular architecture. The polymerized monomers typically encompass butadiene, styrene, divinylbenzene, isoprene, etc. Owing to the modest polarity of the C-H bonds in the polymer molecular chain (with electronegativities of C and H standing at 2.5 and 2.1, respectively), alongside a low cross-linking density, the resin presents exceptional low dielectric properties (Dk~2.0-2.8), minimal loss performance (Df<0.005), and remarkably low water absorption. Moreover, hydrocarbon resin boasts abundant sources and stands as a highly competitive next-generation material for high-speed copper-clad laminates.

In recent times, hydrocarbon resins have been modestly integrated into high-frequency and high-speed copper-clad laminates; however, they generally remain in the nascent stages of large-scale industrial application. The research and development avenues for resin formulations in high-frequency and high-speed copper-clad laminates, both domestically and internationally, predominantly bifurcate into the following categories:

1. Resin systems with hydrocarbon resin as the primary constituent: Multiple double bond comonomers are introduced to augment processing and bonding characteristics.

2. Hydrocarbon resin, polyphenylene ether, and maleimide-based resin: A compatibilizer is introduced to enhance the compatibility between the two constituents.

3. Hydrocarbon resin in conjunction with other resins serving as the primary constituents: A complex system such as epoxy-hydrocarbon-PPO-double horse is established.

The progression direction of hydrocarbon resins, as exemplified by Hitachi Chemical’s ODV product system development process, indicates promising commercial prospects. By judiciously combining hydrocarbon resin with other unsaturated double bond-containing resins such as polyphenylene ether, maleimide, and benzoxazine, high-frequency copper-clad laminate substrates with superlative comprehensive properties can be achieved. The amalgamation of double-bond modified polyphenylene ether and maleimide, alongside hydrocarbon resin, has emerged as the mainstream and relatively mature technical trajectory for resin compositions in high-frequency and high-speed copper-clad laminates. With the escalating global interest in hydrocarbon resins, it is firmly anticipated that a diverse array of product types and hydrocarbon resins with enhanced performance characteristics will materialize in the foreseeable future, culminating in superior PCB substrates.

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