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Capacitance Measurement

Apr. 2012
LCR Division
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CONTENTS

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1. Introduction
2. LCR meters and Measurement Principle
2-1. LCR meters
2-2. Measurement Theory
2-3.
2
3. ALC Function for High CV

3. Characteristics of MLCC
31 T
3-1.
Temperature
t
Characteristics
Ch
t i ti
3-2. DC Bias Characteristics
3-3. AC Voltage Characteristics
3-4. Aging Characteristics
3-5. DC Bias Aging Characteristics
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1. Introduction

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A capacitor is an electrical device that can store energy in the electric field between a pair of closely spaced
conducting plates. Capacitance value means the measure of how much charge a capacitor can store at a certain
voltage.
lt
C
Capacitance
it
off MLCC should
h ld b
be measured
d under
d appropriate
i t measuring
i conditions
diti
such
h as ttemperature,
t
voltage (AC/DC), and frequency. Especially, when you measure a high dielectric MLCC (Class II: X7R, X6S, X5R,
Y5V) by LCR meter, you may be careful to obtain a reasonable capacitance using specified measurement conditions.
Before measurement, the equipment should be used with correct meter setting and have the capability required for
accurate
t capacitance
it
measurement.
t The
Th actual
t l measurementt conditions
diti
off capacitance
it
off Cl
Class I and
d II MLCC
MLCCs are
shown in tables below. The temperature used for these conditions is 25 degree.
CLASS I
Nominal Capacitance

Frequency

Voltage(AC)

Voltage(DC)

1,000pF

1MHz 10%

No Bias

> 1,000pF

1KHz 10%

0.5~5Vrms
(Generally 1Vrms)
(Generally,

Nominal Capacitance

Frequency

Voltage(AC)

Voltage(DC)

10uF

1KHz 10%

1.0 0.2Vrms

No Bias

* 10uF

1KHz 10%

0.5 0.1Vrms

> 10uF

120Hz 20%

0.5 0.1Vrms

CLASS II

* Exceptions: Please check the specification on the web site


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2-1. LCR meters

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LCR meters are used for measurement of the capacitance and dissipation factor of MLCCs.
Typical LCR meters are shown in Table including 4288A, 4268A, 4284A, and E4980A by Agilent Technologies Corp.
LCR M
Meter

O
Overview
i

A li i
Application

4288A
1kHz/1MHz
Capacitance
Meter

High-speed sorting tests of ceramic


capacitors.

Class I
Class II
( 10uF)
10 F)

4268A
120Hz/1kHz
Capacitance
Meter

Constant test level for high value ceramic


capacitor tests.

Class II

4284A
Precision
LCR Meter

Wide frequency Range


4284A : 20Hz to 1 MHz
E4980A : 20Hz to 2 MHz
Auto level control (ALC)

E4980A
Precision
LCR Meter

*Auto level control (ALC)


Class I
Class II

Option 001.
power and DC bias enhancement (+/- 40V)

ALC: The automatic level control (ALC) feature adjusts the voltage across the DUT to the same level as the signal voltage level
setting. By this feature, you can maintain a constant level of voltage of measurement signals applied to the DUT.
Technical overview is available at www.agilent.com
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2-2. Measurement Theory

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When the AC voltage (V) is applied to the DUT and the AC current (I) is flowing through the DUT, the impedance
(|Z|) can be calculated according to the Ohms raw (|Z|=V/I). The measurement circuit depends on the frequency.
So, there are two methods (Auto Balance Bridge and RF I-V). It also depends on the type of fixture.

I
V

Source
V lt
Voltage

DUT

Voltage
Meter

Current
Meter

V
I

R: Resistance
X: Reactance
IZI: Absolute value of impedance
: Phase of impedance

Fig. Circuit model

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2-2. Measurement Theory

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Energy loss is zero in the ideal capacitor. But, real capacitor has dielectric loss and electrode loss by the parasitic
p
is shown by
y the delaying
y g of p
phase angle
g between AC voltage
g and current.
resistance. Loss of capacitor
DF (Dissipation Factor) is described as tan. Here, means delayed phase angle.

Imaginary (X)
j
Inductive
(High freq.)

Z c ESR jX c

1
Xc L
C

||Z||

ESR Z cos ,

Capacitive
(Low freq
freq.))

ESR

X Z sin

1 ESR
tan DF
Q
X

Real (R)

-jj
Fig . Impedance characteristics of general Capacitor
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2-3. ALC (Automatic Level Control) Function

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The automatic level control (ALC) feature adjusts the voltage across the DUT to the same level as the signal
voltage level setting. By this feature, you can maintain a constant level of voltage of measurement signals applied
to the DUT. The ALC feature uses a monitorable feedback circuit to iterate a feedback loop as shown in figure.
The feedback loop consists of level measurement and level change. The time is required for level adjustment
and dependent on how many times the feedback loop is iterated
iterated.

Feedback loop
p

V
DUT
R

HIGH

LOW

Source
V lt
Voltage

Fig. Circuit model from Users Guide provided by Agilent Technologies


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2-3. ALC Function

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The automatic level control (ALC) feature adjusts the voltage across the DUT to the same level as the signal
voltage level setting. When ALC function is off, the capacitance was measured as ~43 F and when ALC function
if on,
on the capacitance was measured as ~49 F at AC voltage of 0
0.5V.
5V The difference between ALC function on
and off was ~6 F. However, we cant see the difference at AC voltage of 0.5V when looking at the figure of
capacitance change. Therefore, the correct capacitance value can be obtained by using ALC function.

40

55.0

ALC (on)

50.0
45.0
40.0

C
C(%)

Ca
ap (uF)

ALC ((off))

20

35.0
30.0

-20
ALC (on)

25.0

ALC (off)

20.0

-40

00
0.0

0.5
0
5
AC voltage(V)

10
1.0

00
0.0

0.5
0
5
AC voltage(V)

10
1.0

Fig. Capacitance of 0603 X5R 47F with AC voltage

Fig. Capacitance change of 0603 X5R 47F with AC voltage

for ALC on and off (Agilent 4284A, 120Hz)

for ALC on and off (Agilent 4284A, 120Hz)


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3-1. Temperature Characteristics

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Temp vs. C

Temperature coefficient of capacitance (TCC) can be described as the change of capacitance dependent on
temperature in MLCCs. There are several TCC categories found in Class I and II. TCC of Class I and II MLCCs are
shown in figure. Class I MLCCs are composed of paraelectric material and show simple TCC behaviors. It has a
li
linear
variation
i ti iin capacitance
it
with
ith temperature.
t
t
The
Th change
h
in
i capacitance
it
with
ith temperature
t
t
is
i expressed
d linearly
li
l
as parts per million per degree centigrade (PPM/).
Class II MLCCs such as X5R and X7R show irregular and high change in capacitance with temperature. This is due
to the ferroelectric nature of the dielectric material of barium titanate (BaTiO3). The change in capacitance with
t
temperature
t
is
i expressed
d as a percentt change
h
over a specified
ifi d temperature
t
t
range. For
F example,
l X7R means th
thatt
the capacitance can change by +/-15% across a temperature range of -55 to 125.
40

+22%

20

+125oC

+15%

-60
60

-40
40

-20
20

25 40

60

80

100

-20

Class

Temperature
Coefficient

Dielectric
Constant

Operating
Temperature
p

Capacitance
Change
g

Class I

C0G

6 ~ 400

-55 ~ +125

0 30ppm/

-55 ~ +85

15%

-55 ~ +105

22%
%

-55 ~ +125

15%

-30 ~ +85

-82 ~ +22%

X5R

C0G

120

X7R

X5R

-15%
-22%

Table. Temperature characteristics of Class I and II MLCCs

o
+85 oC +105 C

6S
X6S

Class II

X7R

1,000 ~
20,000

Y5V

X6S
Fig. Capacitance change of X5R, X7R, Y5V, C0G with temperature
-40

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3-2. DC Bias characteristics

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DC bias vs. C

Capa
acitance ch
hange [arb.]

DC bias is an important electrical parameter affecting the capacitance of MLCCs. DC bias characteristics can be
described as the phenomena of capacitance loss in Class II with increasing DC voltage. This behavior is dependent
on the dielectric formulation, microstructure, and internal construction of MLCC as well as DC voltage load.
Cl
Class
II MLCCs
MLCC are b
based
d on B
BaTiO
TiO3 with
ith fferroelectric
l t i di
dipoles
l and
d DC bi
bias lilimits
it th
the di
dipole
l movements
t resulting
lti iin
reduction of the dielectric constant and capacitance.
The DC bias characteristics of C0G, X5R, X7R, and Y5V MLCCs are shown in figure. Class I MLCC, C0G shows the
stable capacitance value because of its paraelectric structure without dipoles although its relative dielectric constant
i orders
is
d
off magnitude
it d llower th
than Cl
Class II such
h as X5R
X5R, X7R,
X7R and
d Y5V
Y5V. IIn case off Y5V
Y5V, it shows
h
the
th mostt severe
degradation despite of the highest dielectric constant. X5R/X7R have high dielectric constants which are preferred
for high capacitance applications.

10

C0G
X5R / X7R

Y5V
20

30

40

50

DC voltage [V]
Fig. Capacitance change of X5R, X7R, Y5V, C0G with DC voltage
(HP 4284A, 25oC, 1.0Vrms, 1kHz (X7R, Y5V) / 1MHz (C0G))
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3-3. AC voltage characteristics

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AC voltage vs. C

AC voltage characteristics can be described as the phenomena of capacitance change in Class II with increasing
AC voltage. Class I MLCCs composed of paraelectric material do not show this phenomenon. The AC voltage
characteristics
h
t i ti off Class
Cl
II MLCCs
MLCC are shown
h
in
i figure.
fi
In
I Class
Cl
II MLCCs,
MLCC Y5V shows
h
th
the more severe change
h
with
ith
AC voltage than X5R/X7R. This is due to the non-linear characteristics in voltage-polarization curve of ferroelectric
materials. Thus, the slope in the curve increases and the capacitance increases as AC voltage increases.

20

20

C
C(%)

40

C
C(%)

40

-20

-20

-40
40

-40
40

0.0

0.5

1.0

AC voltage(V)

0.0

0.5

1.0

AC voltage(V)

Fig Capacitance change of 0402 X5R 10 F,


Fig.
F 6.3V
6 3V

Fig Capacitance change of 0603 X5R 47F


Fig.
47F, 4.0V
4 0V

with AC voltage (Agilent 4284A, 1kHz)

with AC voltage (Agilent 4284A, 120Hz)


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3-4. Aging Characteristics

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Time vs. C

Aging is a time dependent phenomenon encountered in Class II MLCCs. Class I MLCCs do not show aging
due to the paraelectric nature of the composed material. However, Class II MLCCs such as X5R, X7R, and
Y5V have ferroelectric dielectrics based on BaTiO3 and the capacitance is decreased logarithmically over time.
Figure
g
shows the aging
g g behavior of Class I and II MLCCs with different temperature
p
characteristics. Aging
g g rate
increases with dielectric constant of the material. C0G shows a constant capacitance value independent of
time due to its paraelectric characteristics while Y5V the highest capacitance value and X5R/X7R have an
intermediate aging rate. Aging is intrinsically reversible. The capacitance can be recovered after heat
treatment. MLCCs can be returned to ferroelectric structure by
y heating
g above the Curie p
point ((at least 1 hr at
150) and cooling to room temperature.
Ct = Capacitance value, t hours after the start of aging

Ty
ypical aging rate [%]

Ct = C0 (1 - k log10 t)

C0= Initial capacitance value, k = Aging constant, t = Aging time

C0G

C0G

X7R/X5R

X7R/X5R

-10

Slope (k) 2~5%

-20

Slope (k) 5%~

Y5V

Y5V

-30
-40
0

Time [log10t hr]

Time [log10t hr]

Fig. Typical aging rate of X7R/X5R, Y5V, C0G with aging time
De-aging : Decreased capacitance is recovered after heat treatment ( above 150)
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3-5. DC Bias Aging Characteristics

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DC bias, Time vs. C

In order to increase the capacitance density of MLCCs, the dielectric layer thickness should be reduced and this
means the increase in the electric field applied to dielectric layers. The aging characteristics under DC bias
becomes more important in the high-end products with ultra thin dielectric layers. DC bias aging characteristics
can be explained as the capacitance change with time under DC bias applied because the aging can be
observed in the working condition. The effective capacitance can be described as the capacitance observed in
working condition. The effective capacitance is more important than the nominal capacitance because the
nominal capacitance is dependent on DC-bias, temperature and time. Better effective capacitance can be
obtained by the improvement of DC-bias and aging characteristics.

3434

Capacitanc
ce (F)
Capacitan
nce (uF)

3232
3030
2828
2626
2424
2222
2020

11

10
10

100
100

1000
1000

10000
10000

Time (hr)
Time
(hr)

Fig. Capacitance of 0805 X5R47uF, 6.3V with time in the measurement condition of
85, 1.2V(DC) (E4980A, 1kHz)

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