A Quick Explainer on Thin Film Chip Resistors, Their Properties, and Applications
Thin film chip resistors have traditionally been dominated by thick film resistors in terms of usage and applicability. However, in the last few decades, with emergence of precision applications and equipment, the importance of thin film chip resistors has increased manifold. This is mainly due to the unique characteristics and properties of thin film resistors which make them perfect for measuring and monitoring applications.
Resistors are some of the most important electrical components used in integrated circuits, industrial equipment, consumer electronic goods, generators, etc. Since the applications of resistors are quite diverse, it is natural for engineers and manufacturers to come up with different types of resistors to suit the varied applications. Thin film chip resistor is one of the most popular types of resistors regularly used in manufacturing of critical industrial equipment and consumer electronics products like smartphones and tablets. The increasing need and use of thin film chip resistors for manufacturing of precision measuring and monitoring equipment is one of the biggest factors propelling the thin film chip resistor market growth.
What are Thin Film Chip Resistors and How Do They Work?
Thin film chip resistors are built using thin film resistive layers and are mounted on ceramic substrates. The main difference between thin film chip resistors and thick film resistors is between the thickness of the resistor. Miraculous advancements in the chip manufacturing industry have allowed manufacturers to develop resistor films as thin as 0.1 micron. Apart from this, though the fabrication process looks similar, thick film resistors are manufactured by firing a metal oxide-glass paste, while, on the other hand, thin film chip resistors are manufactured by placing a metallic film on an insulating ceramic substrate.
Due to the fabrication variation mentioned above, thick film resistors have high temperature coefficient and tolerance as compared to thin film chip resistors. Also, the capacitance of thin film resistors is much less than thick film resistors, which is why thick film resistors have more versatility over a wide resistance range. Moreover, this characteristic of thick film resistors makes them more resistant to moisture. However, the properties of thin film chip resistance make them perfect for precision applications such as monitoring and measuring equipment used in medical or aerospace sectors.
Important Characteristics of Thin Film Chip Resistors
Traditionally, thick film resistors have always been widely used than thin film resistors. However, over the years, engineers and consumer electronics manufacturing companies have found ways to make use of the unique characteristics of thin film resistors. Some of these properties are discussed below:
- Maximum Operating Voltage:
One of the biggest advantages of thin film resistors over thick film resistors is the wide voltage range offered. While thick film resistors offer maximum voltage range of 50-200V, thin film resistors have a range of 50-500V which provide them with electrical stability.
The average noise associated with thin film resistors is much less compared to thick film resistors which makes suitable for high frequency applications. On the other hand, thick film resistors have considerable noise incidence which is why these resistors are primarily used for low frequency equipment.
- Low Parasitic Inductance and Capacitance:
The resistance value offered by thin film resistors is around 2-20 Megaohms, while thick film resistors offer around 1-100 Megaohms. As a result of this, the electric performance of thin film resistors is high and they provide higher power rating. This makes them ideal components for HVAC systems.
Applications of Thin Film Chip Resistors
Some of the most important applications of thin film resistors are given below:
- Thin film chip resistor is mainly used in applications and equipment which require high stability and accuracy. Hence, medical instruments and equipment usually prefer thin film resistors over thick film resistors as precise readings are a must.
- Thin film resistors are regularly used in electrical equipment meant for stable reference, stable feedback loops, and stable voltage division, etc. Also, thin film resistors are popular choices for designing both, analog-to-digital and digital-to-analog converters.
- The characteristics and properties of thin film resistors also make them suitable for aerospace equipment, telecommunication apparatus, RF applications, and audio computer chips.
As said earlier, thick film resistors have always been more dominant over thin film chip resistors. However, this scenario is slowly changing and especially in the last few decades, thin film resistors are giving a tough competition to their counterparts. Moreover, with the size of electronic products decreasing and accuracy being given prominence over tolerance, the demand for thin film chip resistors is sure to grow in the coming period.
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