The Simulated TDR Impedance in PCB Material Characterization


High-speed PCB design for signal integrity (SI) is about feasible material selection, trace geometry determination and optimization of discontinuities, where the accurate PCB material characterization is essential since incorrect material properties may lead to misleading results and wrong design descisions. The previous studies have revealed that the simulated time-domain reflectometry (TDR) impedance in material characterization, which is based upon the transmission-line-based methods, is erroneous when compared to the measured value, although a good agreement between simulation and measurement in the frequency domain can always be reached. In addition, it is also shown that achieving a satisfactory correlation in both transmission phase and trace impedance is a challenge for SI engineers. This implies that the transmission-line-based approaches, which are widely used in industries, are not perfect and that the extracted PCB material properties are not accurate enough. In this paper, a step-by-step investigation is performed and demonstrated to disclose the root causes of the TDR impedance discrepancy. It is found that the disagreement in TDR impedance is contributed by multiple factors which need to be taken into consideration during material characterization. The improved simulation result exhibits excellent consistency with the measured trace impedance. The suggestions to hardware designers on how more accurate PCB dielectric properties can be obtained are given by addressing the TDR impedance discrepancy issue.

Meeting Name

2021 IEEE International Joint Electromagnetic Compatibility Signal and Power Integrity and EMC Europe Symposium, EMC/SI/PI/EMC Europe 2021 (2021: Jul. 26-Aug. 13, Raleigh, NC)


Electrical and Computer Engineering

Research Center/Lab(s)

Electromagnetic Compatibility (EMC) Laboratory


National Science Foundation, Grant IIP-1916535

Keywords and Phrases

Causality; Conductivity; Cross-Section; Etch Factor; Frequency Domain; Signal Integrity; Surface Impedance Boundary Condition; Surface Roughness Modeling; TDR Impedance; Time Domain; Transmission Line

International Standard Book Number (ISBN)


Document Type

Article - Conference proceedings

Document Version


File Type





© 2021 Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE), All rights reserved.

Publication Date

13 Aug 2021