Exploring How Aging Affects Timing Solutions and Other Components

Designing and manufacturing circuit boards presents many different variables to consider for engineers and manufacturers. Not only do you have to follow general best practices, but in many cases, you’re looking for other ways to improve and lower the cost of design as well. On top of that, every component, especially timing solutions must be carefully selected to ensure optimum performance of the design.

Not often considered when making these design decisions is the longevity of the components, how the design will be affected by aging and the availability of raw materials. There are very few products in the market that will operate forever without any wear or drop-off in performance.

Frequency control products are consistently some of the best designed and built components in the market, but that does not mean they are immune to deteriorating performance. A very applicable term for this is called aging. Aging is when a quartz resonator begins to deviate from its intended frequency. Let’s examine the aging of timing solutions and what effects this can have on the electronic circuits they control.

What Is Aging?

Aging is a common idea, but for the sake of exploring this phenomenon within electronic circuits, the more accurate term is “quartz aging.” Aging of quartz or “quartz aging” is a relaxation of the crystalline structure. This is natural as the stresses of the structure are relieved through oscillation. This will lead to frequency drift over time, which causes the intended frequency to slip.

Quartz crystals are the starting point for resonation within crystal oscillators to provide a desired frequency. Over time the quartz crystal will begin to age, which can cause the desired frequency to increase or decrease, both having effects on the performance of the circuit and in turn the connected technology solutions.

It is important to note that the fluctuation in frequency is not a linear function. The frequency will not always increase or always decrease; It may go up one year and down the next. Attempting to forecast the long-term performance of a quartz crystal that has begun aging is nearly impossible.

How Is Quartz Aging Caused?

Once it is discovered that the quartz crystal within a circuit is aging and affecting the frequency, it can usually be attributed to one of a few known issues that cause aging:

  • Duration of use
  • Relaxation of the crystalline structure of the quartz blank
  • Stress relief in the crystal’s mounting structure
  • Internal contamination
  • Moisture absorption

How to Minimize Crystal Aging

Now that we have identified some of the causes for quartz aging, it is best practice in engineering to follow guidelines to slow the aging process.. Here are some ways to reduce aging in your circuits:

  • Clean: The environment in which components are manufactured has a large effect on their performance and longevity. Only source timing solutions from manufacturers that operate in an ultra-clean environment that keep all unwanted materials and particles away from crystal products.
  • Secure: You don’t want your crystals being exposed to any extra conditions after manufacturing. Make sure your timing solutions utilize Hermetically sealed packages for best performance.
  • Precise: Crystal aging generally tends to follow a logarithmic curve. We can predict that most crystal aging occurs in the first year of operation. With this knowledge, skilled manufacturers can provide timing solutions that are “pre-aged” or already exhibit the characteristics of aging. Allowing the design to accommodate for this before going into operation.

Has Your Timing Solution Aged Out? ECS Inc. Has High Quality Replacements

ECS Inc. is the source you need for frequency control components and timing solutions. Explore our options and fit your design with the highest quality components.

With proven success in many different applications, including the IoT, consumer electronics, connected technology solutions, watches and automotive among others, you can trust ECS Inc. components for reliability, performance, accuracy and precision within your circuits.

How to Get ECS Inc. Timing Solutions For Your Design

The ECS Inc. website makes it simple to find the components and timing solutions required for your application. Utilize the Parametric Search and Search Inventory pages to sort components by attributes like size, frequency and mounting type to identify the best option to meet the requirements of your application.

For additional information, get in touch with a sales representative near you to get the assistance you need. Additionally, you can fill out the contact form online and one of our engineering professionals will contact you.

If you’re ready to place an order, the ECS Inc. authorized distributors are listed online for easy access and assurance that you will get quality parts from quality distributors.

What Are the Long-Term Effects of an Application Aging? was last modified: February 22nd, 2023 by ECS Inc.