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Is Smaller Better In Crystal Packages?

Explaining Why Timing Solutions Are Getting Smaller

Downsizing is a popular trend in modern electronics. Everything is getting more miniature. From wearable tech and mobile devices to smart home hubs, we have endless examples of new technology that require smaller components.

With this trend in full swing, most electronic manufacturers are looking to source smaller components as well as working around different issues that may arise in the design process when working with them. As with every other component, timing solutions, like oscillators, are being examined for miniaturization. The following looks at what some of the effects are to shrinking quartz crystals in oscillators.

 

What’s Different In Quartz Oscillators With Smaller Crystals?

The first thing engineers need to know about smaller crystal sizes is that the resonance frequency is higher. With quartz specifically, the thickness of the quartz crystal is inversely proportional to the resonance frequency. This means that the thinner the crystal is, the higher the resulting frequency will be.

Thick crystals will have lower frequencies. With the thickness being related to the smaller package size, there will be lower frequencies that are unreachable in this smaller technology because of the size constraints of the quartz oscillator. This is something that many electronic companies are realizing when scaling down the size of their timing solutions.

 

Smaller Crystals and ESR in Timing Solutions

Higher equivalent series resistance (ESR) is something else engineers will see with smaller crystals. ESR is the internal resistance and represents the loss of energy in an electronic circuit. Almost every electrical circuit will have some kind of ESR to differing degrees.

The level of ESR depends on many factors such as the specific construction, materials, quality, etc. ESR can be measured anywhere from a few milliohms to several ohms (or 1,000 milliohms). If the ESR is too high, you may see varying results like power losses, poor efficiency and instability in circuits.

As a general rule, smaller crystals result in higher ESR, but there are several other factors including frequency, electrode size and mounting structure. With all of these factors involved and the potential effects of ESR, it’s easy to see why it can’t be overlooked when considering using smaller quartz crystals in oscillators. A stable oscillator can’t be guaranteed without it.

 

Other Factors Of Smaller Crystals In Oscillators

There are many other results of shrinking crystals. It’s not just a simple change to the process or build. Shrinking crystals are a major transformation to the design of the oscillator. In any frequency-related circuit, this will have further repercussions. Timing solutions are complex, so it’s important to recognize that functional changes can occur when modifying design. Things to watch include:

  • Reduced C0 - When dimensions are shrunk to fit in smaller packages, the electrodes are also smaller. C0 is proportional to the electrodes, so it shrinks as well.
  • Reduced Motional Capacitance (C1) - Also proportional to the electrode area at certain frequencies.
  • Trim Sensitivity (TS) - When the circuit is not adjusted, the smaller load capacitance reduces TS.
  • Perturbations - Deviations from ideal frequency resulting from different crystal cuts.

 

While there is not as much definitive information on these factors, they have been proven enough to be affected by smaller crystals to be monitored.

 

ECS Inc. Timing Solutions Are Up To The Task

The expertise built in timing solutions over the last 40 years at ECS Inc. has allowed for technological advancements in staying ahead of trends. Producing high quality components including oscillators and crystals is what ECS Inc. is known for and takes pride in.

These components provide impeccable timing, reliability and performance to any system. With passive and active components used in many different applications like automotive, non-life sustaining medical, watches and other tech, accuracy and precision are essential.

 

Find Oscillator Components On Our Site

The Parametric Search and Search Inventory tools make the ECS Inc. website easy and helpful to locate exactly what you need. Sort by size, frequency, mounting type, voltage and many more specifications to find the best options for your application.

For additional help and order inquiries, get in touch with a sales representative in your region.

About ECS

Founded in 1980, ECS Inc. International has grown to become one of the most recognized and experienced manufacturers of frequency control management products in the world.
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