Via (electronics)

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A via or VIA (Latin for path or way, also known as vertical interconnect access) is an electrical connection between layers in a physical electronic circuit that goes through the plane of one or more adjacent layers. To ensure via robustness, IPC sponsored a round-robin exercise that developed a time to failure calculator. [1]

Electronic circuit electrical circuit with active components such as transistors, valves and integrated circuits; electrical network that contains active electronic components, generally nonlinear and require complex design and analysis tools

An electronic circuit is composed of individual electronic components, such as resistors, transistors, capacitors, inductors and diodes, connected by conductive wires or traces through which electric current can flow. To be referred to as electronic, rather than electrical, generally at least one active component must be present. The combination of components and wires allows various simple and complex operations to be performed: signals can be amplified, computations can be performed, and data can be moved from one place to another.

IPC (electronics) organization

IPC, the Association Connecting Electronics Industries, is a trade association whose aim is to standardize the assembly and production requirements of electronic equipment and assemblies. It was founded in 1957 as the Institute of Printed Circuits. Its name was later changed to the Institute for Interconnecting and Packaging Electronic Circuits to highlight the expansion from bare boards to packaging and electronic assemblies. In 1999, the organization formally changed its name to IPC with the accompanying tagline, Association Connecting Electronics Industries.



In integrated circuit design, a via is a small opening in an insulating oxide layer that allows a conductive connection between different layers. A via on an integrated circuit is often called a through-chip via or through-silicon via (TSV). Through-glass vias (TGV) have been studied by Corning Glass for semiconductor packaging, due to the reduced electrical loss of glass versus silicon packaging. [2] A via connecting the lowest layer of metal to diffusion or poly is typically called a "contact".

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

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 MOS transistors into a small chip results in circuits that are orders of magnitude smaller, faster, and less expensive 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.

Through-silicon via

In electronic engineering, a through-silicon via (TSV) or through-chip via is a vertical electrical connection (via) that passes completely through a silicon wafer or die. TSVs are high performance interconnect techniques used as an alternative to wire-bond and flip chips to create 3D packages and 3D integrated circuits. Compared to alternatives such as package-on-package, the interconnect and device density is substantially higher, and the length of the connections becomes shorter.


Different types of vias:
(1) Through hole.
(2) Blind via.
(3) Buried via.
The gray and green layers are nonconducting, while the thin orange layers and vias are conductive. Via Types.svg
Different types of vias:
(1) Through hole.
(2) Blind via.
(3) Buried via.
The gray and green layers are nonconducting, while the thin orange layers and vias are conductive.
PCB Via current capacity chart showing 1mil Plating Via Current Capacity & Resistance vs Diameter on a 1.6mm PCB ViaCurrentCapacity.png
PCB Via current capacity chart showing 1mil Plating Via Current Capacity & Resistance vs Diameter on a 1.6mm PCB

In printed circuit board design, a via consists of two pads in corresponding positions on different layers of the board, that are electrically connected by a hole through the board. The hole is made conductive by electroplating, or is lined with a tube or a rivet. High-density multilayer PCBs may have microvias: blind vias are exposed only on one side of the board, while buried vias connect internal layers without being exposed on either surface. Thermal vias carry heat away from power devices and are typically used in arrays of about a dozen.

Printed circuit board Board to support and connect electronic components

A printed circuit board (PCB) mechanically supports and electrically connects electronic components or electrical components using conductive tracks, pads and other features etched from one or more sheet layers of copper laminated onto and/or between sheet layers of a non-conductive substrate. Components are generally soldered onto the PCB to both electrically connect and mechanically fasten them to it.

Electroplating creation of protective or decorative metallic coating on other metal with electric current

Electroplating is a process that uses an electric current to reduce dissolved metal cations so that they form a thin coherent metal coating on an electrode. The term is also used for electrical oxidation of anions on to a solid substrate, as in the formation of silver chloride on silver wire to make silver/silver-chloride electrodes. Electroplating is primarily used to change the surface properties of an object, but may also be used to build up thickness on undersized parts or to form objects by electroforming.

Rivet Permanent mechanical fastener

A rivet is a permanent mechanical fastener. Before being installed, a rivet consists of a smooth cylindrical shaft with a head on one end. The end opposite to the head is called the tail. On installation, the rivet is placed in a punched or drilled hole, and the tail is upset, or bucked, so that it expands to about 1.5 times the original shaft diameter, holding the rivet in place. In other words, pounding creates a new "head" on the other end by smashing the "tail" material flatter, resulting in a rivet that is roughly a dumbbell shape. To distinguish between the two ends of the rivet, the original head is called the factory head and the deformed end is called the shop head or buck-tail.

A via consists of:

  1. Barrel — conductive tube filling the drilled hole
  2. Pad — connects each end of the barrel to the component, plane, or trace
  3. Antipad — clearance hole between barrel and metal layer to which it is not connected

A via may be at the edge of the board so that it is cut in half when the board is separated; this is known as a castellated hole and is used for a variety of reasons, including allowing one PCB to be soldered to another in a stack. [3]

Three major kinds of vias are shown in right figure. The basic steps of making a PCB are: making the substrate material and stacking it in layers; through-drilling of plating the vias; and copper trace patterning using photolithography and etching. With this standard procedure, possible via configurations are limited to through-holes. Depth-controlled drilling techniques such as using lasers can allow for more varied via types. PCB manufacturing typically starts with a so-called core, a basic double-sided PCB. Layers beyond the first two are stacked from this basic building block. If two more layers are consecutively stacked from bottom of core, you can have a 1-2 via, a 1-3 via and a through hole. Each type of via is made by drilling at each stacking stage. If one layer is stacked on top of the core and other is stacked from the bottom, the possible via configurations are 1-3, 2-3 and through hole. The user must gather information about the PCB manufacturer's allowed methods of stacking and possible vias. For cheaper boards, only through holes are made and antipad (or clearance) is placed on layers which are supposed not to be contacted to vias.

Failure behavior

If well made, PCB vias will primarily fail due to differential expansion and contraction between the copper plating and the PCB in the out of plane direction (Z). This differential expansion and contraction will induce cyclic fatigue in the copper plating, eventually resulting in crack propagation and an electrical open. Various design, material, and environmental parameters will influence the rate of this degradation. [4] [5]

See also

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  1. "Plated Through Hole (PTH) Fatigue calculator". DfR Solutions. Retrieved 2017-12-17.
  3. "Castellated Holes / Edge Plating PCB / Castellations". Hi-Tech Corp. 2011. Archived from the original on 2016-05-26. Retrieved 2013-01-02.
  4. C. Hillman, Understanding plated through via failures, Global SMT & Packaging – November 2013, pp 26-28,
  5. C. Hillman, Reliable Plated Through Via Design and Fabrication,