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Air Gap Contactor

Prepared by Lam Tuck Hon

Presented at BiTS Workshop on March 6 – 9, 2011


  • The Signal Integrity performance of a Test Contactor is defined as the speed and quality of the signal transmitted and received via Probe Pins in the Test Contactor.
  • These probe pins are further separated as Power, Ground and Signal pins.
  • There are multiple variables that contribute to the electrical performance of the Test Contactors.
  • Enhancing the multiple variables achieves an optimized Electrical Performance.

Basic Requirement

The (Signal Integrity) electrical performance of the Socket/Contactor will depend on:‐

Assign by Customer

  • Pitch
  • Number of GND Probe Pin
  • Number of Signal Probe Pin

Advise By Socket/Pin Maker

  • Diameter of Probe Pin
  • Length of Probe Pin
  • Material of the Socket

Normal Conventional Contactor

Consists of two plates (Top Plate & Bottom Plate) made of Engineered Plastic materials

Technical Challenge

The main challenge in optimizing the electrical performance/SI of a Test Contactor is to have good control of the Signal Path Impedance

The major parts that affect the impedance:‐

  • Pitch to Pitch
  • Diameter of Probe Pin
  • Dielectric Constant of the Material

Pitch to Pitch

  • Assigned By Customer

Diameter of the Probe Pin

  • Machining limitation
  • Limited choices for fine pitch pins


  • Looking for Low Dielectric Constant material

Air Gap Contactor

  • A new feature known as an Internal Air Gap to further improve the control over impedance.
  • By providing an air gap internally in the Test Contactor the Effective Dielectric Constant is further improved.
  • This is because the Air Gap created provides the lowest Dielectric Constant possible and the best Dielectric Loss Tangent value achievable.
  • By reducing the Dielectric Constant this helps in increasing the impedance of the Probe Pin as the impedance is inversely proportional to the Dielectric Constant.
  • Dielectric Constant of Air = 1
  • Dielectric Loss Tangent of Air = 0, Could not be achieved in any known materials.
  • Due to some of the contactor materials being removed, it will make the contactor’s body structure become weak.
  • Cosmoswork software will be used to analyze the Air Gap Contactor structure.

The technical reviews are as below:‐

  • Solving Impedance mismatch issues especially when the impedance is lower than required impedance
  • The Electrical Properties of Air provides the best electrical value ‐ could not be achieved in any materials
  • Signal Pin
    • Improve Insertion Loss
    • Improve Return Loss


  • Easily improve the Electrical Performance for current socket by adding the internal Air Gap, significantly save cost and time.
  • To maximize the electrical performance of the AG Contactors, one must find out the correct height required to obtain the necessary impedance and thus maximizing the Signal Integrity of the Contactors.


Price is lower, and the quality is good, compare the other this price, the quality is good... I'm very happy to use your product...
Andy YangSnr Staff Engineer - Broadcom
Innovativeness, cost effectiveness and agility is the most important things we look for ...even after leaving Intel, I will always recommend TTS and will continue to do so.
Ashoke SethFormer Director - Intel
TTS socket is easy to use, great to put on, easy to remove and replace from board to board...
Paul WilliamsEngineering Tech - Broadcom
The reason to purchase TTS socket is not only low cost but high quality... perform in lab and to temperature testing.
Dale RasmusenPrincipal Engineer - Teknovus
...repeatability from trial to trial, and all in all, we have good support, certainly a robust product, so we are happy with it.
Christian WiherSenior Principal Engineer - Broadcom
The quality and design of sockets and pins are very good, my customers and business units are happy with the sockets. With that obviously we prefer TTS.
Errol MonsaleTest Hardware Engineer - IDT
The technology of TTS is novel and leading edge. I am excited from the information that is provided from this high technology company.
Akira NagashimaDirector - Toshiba
We are happy working with the Japanese team with great support. Let’s grow together.
SaitoDirector - Elia