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Cross-section diagram of stripline geometry. Central conductor (A) is sandwiched between ground planes (B and D). Structure is supported by dielectric (C). Stripline geometry.svg
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. Stripline is the earliest form of planar transmission line.

A transverse mode of electromagnetic radiation is a particular electromagnetic field pattern of radiation measured in a plane perpendicular to the propagation direction of the beam. Transverse modes occur in radio waves and microwaves confined to a waveguide, and also in light waves in an optical fiber and in a laser's optical resonator.

Transmission line specialized cable or other structure designed to carry alternating current of radio frequency

In radio-frequency engineering, a transmission line is a specialized cable or other structure designed to conduct alternating current of radio frequency, that is, currents with a frequency high enough that their wave nature must be taken into account. Transmission lines are used for purposes such as connecting radio transmitters and receivers with their antennas, distributing cable television signals, trunklines routing calls between telephone switching centres, computer network connections and high speed computer data buses.

Planar transmission line Transmission lines with flat ribbon-like conducting or dielectric lines

Planar transmission lines are transmission lines with conductors, or in some cases dielectric (insulating) strips, that are flat, ribbon-shaped lines. They are used to interconnect components on printed circuits and integrated circuits working at microwave frequencies because the planar type fits in well with the manufacturing methods for these components. Transmission lines are more than simply interconnections. With simple interconnections the propagation of the electromagnetic wave along the wire is fast enough to be considered instantaneous, and the voltages at each end of the wire can be considered identical. If the wire is longer than a large fraction of a wavelength these assumptions are no longer true and transmission line theory must be used instead. With transmission lines, the geometry of the line is precisely controlled so that its electrical behaviour is highly predictable. At lower frequencies, these considerations are only necessary for the cables connecting different pieces of equipment, but at microwave frequencies the distance at which transmission line theory becomes necessary is measured in millimetres. Hence, transmission lines are needed within circuits.



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.

Integrated circuit electronic circuit manufactured by lithography; set of electronic circuits on one small flat piece (or "chip") of semiconductor material, normally silicon 639-1 ısoo

An integrated circuit or monolithic integrated circuit is a set of electronic circuits on one small flat piece of semiconductor material that is normally silicon. The integration of large numbers of tiny transistors into a small chip results in circuits that are orders of magnitude smaller, cheaper, and faster than those constructed of discrete electronic components. The IC's mass production capability, reliability and building-block approach to circuit design has ensured the rapid adoption of standardized ICs in place of designs using discrete transistors. ICs are now used in virtually all electronic equipment and have revolutionized the world of electronics. Computers, mobile phones, and other digital home appliances are now inextricable parts of the structure of modern societies, made possible by the small size and low cost of ICs.

In geometry, parallel lines are lines in a plane which do not meet; that is, two lines in a plane that do not intersect or touch each other at any point are said to be parallel. By extension, a line and a plane, or two planes, in three-dimensional Euclidean space that do not share a point are said to be parallel. However, two lines in three-dimensional space which do not meet must be in a common plane to be considered parallel; otherwise they are called skew lines. Parallel planes are planes in the same three-dimensional space that never meet.

Ground plane

In electrical engineering, a ground plane is an electrically conductive surface, usually connected to electrical ground. The term has two different meanings in separate areas of electrical engineering. In antenna theory, a ground plane is a conducting surface large in comparison to the wavelength, such as the Earth, which is connected to the transmitter's ground wire and serves as a reflecting surface for radio waves. In printed circuit boards, a ground plane is a large area of copper foil on the board which is connected to the power supply ground terminal and serves as a return path for current from different components on the board.

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.

A via fence, also called a picket fence, is a structure used in planar electronic circuit technologies to improve isolation between components which would otherwise be coupled by electromagnetic fields. It consists of a row of via holes which, if spaced close enough together, form a barrier to electromagnetic wave propagation of slab modes in the substrate. Additionally if radiation in the air above the board is also to be suppressed, then a strip pad with via fence allows a shielding can to be electrically attached to the top side, but electrically behave as if it continued through the PCB.

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

Coaxial cable A type of electrical cable with an inner conductor surrounded by concentric insulating layer and conducting shield

Coaxial cable, or coax, is a type of electrical cable that has an inner conductor surrounded by a tubular insulating layer, surrounded by a tubular conducting shield. Many coaxial cables also have an insulating outer sheath or jacket. The term coaxial comes from the inner conductor and the outer shield sharing a geometric axis. Coaxial cable was invented by English engineer and mathematician Oliver Heaviside, who patented the design in 1880.

Dispersion relation Relation of wavelength/wavenumber as a function of a waves frequency

In physical sciences and electrical engineering, dispersion relations describe the effect of dispersion in a medium on the properties of a wave traveling within that medium. A dispersion relation relates the wavelength or wavenumber of a wave to its frequency. From this relation the phase velocity and group velocity of the wave have convenient expressions which then determine the refractive index of the medium. More general than the geometry-dependent and material-dependent dispersion relations, there are the overarching Kramers–Kronig relations that describe the frequency dependence of wave propagation and attenuation.

Cutoff frequency frequency response boundary

In physics and electrical engineering, a cutoff frequency, corner frequency, or break frequency is a boundary in a system's frequency response at which energy flowing through the system begins to be reduced rather than passing through.


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 (air stripline) 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]

Air stripline is a form of electrical planar transmission line whereby a conductor in the form of a thin metal strip is suspended between two ground planes. The idea is to make the dielectric essentially air. Mechanical support of the line may be a thin substrate, periodical insulated supports, or the device connectors and other electrical items.

Sanders Associates

Sanders Associates was a defense contractor in Nashua, New Hampshire, United States, from 1951 until it was sold in 1986. It is now part of BAE Systems Electronics & Integrated Solutions, a subsidiary of BAE Systems. It concentrated on developing and manufacturing electronic systems, notably aircraft self-protection systems, and tactical surveillance and intelligence systems. Other business areas included microwave, missile and space electronics; infrared imaging; and automated mission planning systems, with both military and commercial applications.

Stripline was initially preferred to its rival, microstrip, made by ITT. Transmission in stripline is purely TEM mode and consequently there is no dispersion (provided that the dielectric of substrate is not itself dispersive). Also, discontinuity elements on the line (gaps, stubs, posts etc) present a purely reactive impedance. This is not the case with microstrip; the differing dielectrics above and below the strip result in longitudinal non-TEM components to the wave. This results in dispersion and discontinuity elements have a resistive component causing them to radiate. In the 1950s Eugene Fubini, at the time working for AIL, jokingly suggested that a microstrip dipole would make a good antenna. This was intended to highlight the drawbacks of microstrip, but the microstrip patch antenna has become the most popular design of antenna in mobile devices. [2] Stripline remained in the ascendent for its performance advantages through the 1950s and 1960s but eventually microstrip won out, especially in mass produced items, because it was easier to assemble and the lack of an upper dielectric meant that components were easier to access and adjust. As the complexity of printed circuits increased, this convenience issue became more important until today microstrip is the dominant planar technology. Miniaturisation also leads to favouring microstrip because its disadvantages are not so severe in a miniaturised circuit. However, stripline is still chosen where operation over a wide band is required. [3]

Stub (electronics) short electrical transmission line

In microwave and radio-frequency engineering, a stub or resonant stub is a length of transmission line or waveguide that is connected at one end only. The free end of the stub is either left open-circuit or short-circuited. Neglecting transmission line losses, the input impedance of the stub is purely reactive; either capacitive or inductive, depending on the electrical length of the stub, and on whether it is open or short circuit. Stubs may thus function as capacitors, inductors and resonant circuits at radio frequencies.

In electrical and electronic systems, reactance is the opposition of a circuit element to a change in current or voltage, due to that element's inductance or capacitance. The notion of reactance is similar to electrical resistance, but it differs in several respects.

Dr. Eugene G. Fubini (1913–1997) was a defense policy maker of the Cold War.

Comparison to microstrip

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.

See also

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Electrical length

In telecommunications and electrical engineering, electrical length refers to the length of an electrical conductor in terms of the phase shift introduced by transmission over that conductor at some frequency.

Waveguide structure that guides waves, typically electromagnetic waves

A waveguide is a structure that guides waves, such as electromagnetic waves or sound, with minimal loss of energy by restricting expansion to one dimension or two. There is a similar effect in water waves constrained within a canal, or guns that have barrels which restrict hot gas expansion to maximize energy transfer to their bullets. Without the physical constraint of a waveguide, wave amplitudes decrease according to the inverse square law as they expand into three dimensional space.

The wave impedance of an electromagnetic wave is the ratio of the transverse components of the electric and magnetic fields. For a transverse-electric-magnetic (TEM) plane wave traveling through a homogeneous medium, the wave impedance is everywhere equal to the intrinsic impedance of the medium. In particular, for a plane wave travelling through empty space, the wave impedance is equal to the impedance of free space. The symbol Z is used to represent it and it is expressed in units of ohms. The symbol η (eta) may be used instead of Z for wave impedance to avoid confusion with electrical impedance.

Antenna (radio) electrical device which converts electric power into radio waves, and vice versa

In radio engineering, an antenna is the interface between radio waves propagating through space and electric currents moving in metal conductors, used with a transmitter or receiver. In transmission, a radio transmitter supplies an electric current to the antenna's terminals, and the antenna radiates the energy from the current as electromagnetic waves. In reception, an antenna intercepts some of the power of a radio wave in order to produce an electric current at its terminals, that is applied to a receiver to be amplified. Antennas are essential components of all radio equipment.

Microstrip antenna

In telecommunication, a microstrip antenna usually means an antenna fabriciated using microstrip techniques on a printed circuit board (PCB). It is a kind of Internal Antenna. They are mostly used at microwave frequencies. An individual microstrip antenna consists of a patch of metal foil of various shapes on the surface of a PCB, with a metal foil ground plane on the other side of the board. Most microstrip antennas consist of multiple patches in a two-dimensional array. The antenna is usually connected to the transmitter or receiver through foil microstrip transmission lines. The radio frequency current is applied between the antenna and ground plane. Microstrip antennas have become very popular in recent decades due to their thin planar profile which can be incorporated into the surfaces of consumer products, aircraft and missiles; their ease of fabrication using printed circuit techniques; the ease of integrating the antenna on the same board with the rest of the circuit, and the possibility of adding active devices such as microwave integrated circuits to the antenna itself to make active antennas.

Microstrip electrical transmission line for microwave-frequency signals on printed circuit board

Microstrip is a type of electrical transmission line which can be fabricated using printed circuit board technology, and is used to convey microwave-frequency signals. It consists of a conducting strip separated from a ground plane by a dielectric layer known as the substrate. Microwave components such as antennas, couplers, filters, power dividers etc. can be formed from microstrip, with the entire device existing as the pattern of metallization on the substrate. Microstrip is thus much less expensive than traditional waveguide technology, as well as being far lighter and more compact. Microstrip was developed by ITT laboratories as a competitor to stripline.

Patch antenna

A patch antenna is a type of radio antenna with a low profile, which can be mounted on a flat surface. It consists of a flat rectangular sheet or "patch" of metal, mounted over a larger sheet of metal called a ground plane. They are the original type of microstrip antenna described by Howell in 1972; the two metal sheets together form a resonant piece of microstrip transmission line with a length of approximately one-half wavelength of the radio waves. The radiation mechanism arises from discontinuities at each truncated edge of the microstrip transmission line. The radiation at the edges causes the antenna to act slightly larger electrically than its physical dimensions, so in order for the antenna to be resonant, a length of microstrip transmission line slightly shorter than one-half the wavelength at the frequency is used. The patch antenna is mainly practical at microwave frequencies, at which wavelengths are short enough that the patches are conveniently small. It is widely used in portable wireless devices because of the ease of fabricating it on printed circuit boards. Multiple patch antennas on the same substrate (see image) called microstrip antennas, can be used to make high gain array antennas, and phased arrays in which the beam can be electronically steered.

Unbalanced line

In electrical engineering, an unbalanced line is a transmission line, often coaxial cable, whose conductors have unequal impedances with respect to ground; as opposed to a balanced line. Microstrip and single-wire lines are also unbalanced lines.

Dielectric loss quantifies a dielectric material's inherent dissipation of electromagnetic energy. It can be parameterized in terms of either the loss angleδ or the corresponding loss tangent tan δ. Both refer to the phasor in the complex plane whose real and imaginary parts are the resistive (lossy) component of an electromagnetic field and its reactive (lossless) counterpart.

Phase shift module

A phase shift module is a microwave network module which provides a controllable phase shift of the RF signal. Phase shifters are used in phased arrays.

Distributed element filter

A distributed element filter is an electronic filter in which capacitance, inductance and resistance are not localised in discrete capacitors, inductors and resistors as they are in conventional filters. Its purpose is to allow a range of signal frequencies to pass, but to block others. Conventional filters are constructed from inductors and capacitors, and the circuits so built are described by the lumped element model, which considers each element to be "lumped together" at one place. That model is conceptually simple, but it becomes increasingly unreliable as the frequency of the signal increases, or equivalently as the wavelength decreases. The distributed element model applies at all frequencies, and is used in transmission line theory; many distributed element components are made of short lengths of transmission line. In the distributed view of circuits, the elements are distributed along the length of conductors and are inextricably mixed together. The filter design is usually concerned only with inductance and capacitance, but because of this mixing of elements they cannot be treated as separate "lumped" capacitors and inductors. There is no precise frequency above which distributed element filters must be used but they are especially associated with the microwave band.

Metamaterial antenna

Metamaterial antennas are a class of antennas which use metamaterials to increase performance of miniaturized antenna systems. Their purpose, as with any electromagnetic antenna, is to launch energy into free space. However, this class of antenna incorporates metamaterials, which are materials engineered with novel, often microscopic, structures to produce unusual physical properties. Antenna designs incorporating metamaterials can step-up the antenna's radiated power.

Coplanar waveguide

Coplanar waveguide is a type of electrical planar transmission line which can be fabricated using printed circuit board technology, and is used to convey microwave-frequency signals. On a smaller scale, coplanar waveguide transmission lines are also built into monolithic microwave integrated circuits. Conventional coplanar waveguide (CPW) consists of a single conducting track printed onto a dielectric substrate, together with a pair of return conductors, one to either side of the track. All three conductors are on the same side of the substrate, and hence are coplanar. The return conductors are separated from the central track by a small gap, which has an unvarying width along the length of the line. Away from the cental conductor, the return conductors usually extend to an indefinite but large distance, so that each is notionally a semi-infinite plane.

Inverted-F antenna

An inverted-F antenna is a type of antenna used in wireless communication. It consists of a monopole antenna running parallel to a ground plane and grounded at one end. The antenna is fed from an intermediate point a distance from the grounded end. The design has two advantages over a simple monopole: the antenna is shorter and more compact, and the impedance matching can be controlled by the designer without the need for extraneous matching components.

Distributed element circuit

Distributed element circuits are electrical circuits composed of lengths of transmission lines or other distributed components. These circuits perform the same functions as conventional circuits composed of passive components, such as capacitors, inductors, and transformers. They are used mostly at microwave frequencies, where conventional components are difficult to implement.


  1. Oliner, pp.556-559
  2. Yarman, p. 67
  3. Oliner, pp. 558-562