Flight-Ready Ku/K/Ka-Band Socket Solutions for Space and Defense

Challenges Facing Space & Defense Designers

  • Radio frequencies moving at record pace​
  • Reliability/longevity concerns of solder joints of Ball Grid Array (BGA)/Column Grid Array (CGA) packages ​
  • Customization of commercial connectors often needed for Space and Defense applications
  • Finding the right radiation hardening (Rad-hard) FPGA for designs​
  • Scalable solutions required as Low Earth Orbit and Constellation Satellite volumes increase​
  • Commercial Space and Defense applications have critical outgassing thermal cycling and shock/vibration requirements

Ardent Concepts Patented Contact Technology

Core Competencies

Signal Integrity

Ardent’s interconnect technology was born of a simple concept: What if we could eliminate the barrel and the plunger from a traditional “pogo” style spring pin and make the spring inside behave like an electrical contact instead of behaving like an inductor at multi-GHz speeds?


Our products are all based on solderless compression mount technology enabling more reliable and electrically repeatable performance over time and across programs. Our solderless compression products allow our customers to be agile in changing their designs without having to scrap entire projects and printed circuit boards with components soldered to the board. This leads to enhanced flexibility and cost savings.


Contacts can be arranged in pitches down to 0.4mm (grid array) and 2.54mm signal-to-signal (coaxial array) to scale up the number of lanes in any system.

Mechanical Reliability

Mil-Spec qualified and rated for thousands of cycles in the harshest environments, Ardent’s patented technologies are production proven with over 19 years of field use for test and measurement and OEM interconnect.

Contact Portfolio

Features and Benefits

Critical Socket Design Considerations

Anatomy of a Socket

1. Socket Lid

The Socket Lid’s (shown here: Screw Down Lid) primary function is to apply compression force to the customer’s package. Amphenol Ardent Concepts offers many lid styles that satisfy various requirements from bench test (e.g The lid can be outfitted with a heat sink and fan to help with heat dispersion) to flight (e.g integration with flight conduction cooling systems) We are able to customize and partner with third parties on the design of the lid to satisfy program requirements.

2. Socket Head Cap Screws

Attach the socket to the board by threading through the Guide Plate, Interposer, and into the threaded holes of the Stiffener Assembly located on the back side of the PCB.

3. Guide Plate

The Guide Plate· provides alignment of the package to the contacts below, serves as an anchor for the Lid to attach, and provides additional rigidity to the socket assembly.

4. BGA Alignment Sheet (Not Shown)

Typically built out of the same material as [5. Insulator], the BGA alignment sheet is ONLY used for BGA packages and provides proper targeting and alignment to the contacts housed within the interposer below. It is not used for LGA package type.

5. Insulator (Interposer)

The purpose of the interposer is to house our patented contacts that are making the electrical connection between the IC and PCB. Metal or plastic dowels are used for alignment, to match the centers of each component of the socket.

6. PCB Footprint

This represents your board with the socket’s footprint. A PCB footprint drawing is provided with each unique socket design, along with detailed descriptions of tolerances and board fabrication notes such as recommended plating types, via and pad sizes, etc.

7. Board Stiffener

This is to help with the planarity and rigidity of the PCB. Where the board stiffener supports the PCB from the bottom up can be highly customized, in order to make way for capacitor placements. Our mechanical design engineers will take a drawing of the component placement on the bottom layer from you and optimize the stiffener. This “cityscape” support structure design can also be integrated into a larger back plate for the entire PCB if needed.

Custom Design Services

Dedicated design engineer will work with you to:
  • Meet design specifications for:
    • Prototype
    • Breadboard
    • EM/Qual
    • Flight
  • Ensure bandwidth & performance goals are met
  • Gain approval of design before releasing it to production

Critical Design Elements of an Ardent SK Series™ Socket

Prototyping / Breadboarding – Test Sockets

Rapid Prototyping with COTS socket (50mm X 50mm max)
  • Supports common radiation-tolerant FPGA form factors 
  • Molded 1mm pitch available off the shelf to meet your immediate needs
  • Can be modified for any package size up to 50mm x 50mm
  • Short lead times
  • Interposers MIL-STD qualified for shock / vibration and temperature
Thermal Testing Needs
  • Variety of thermal management options for compression socket lids
    • Screw down / Lever lid
    • Heat sink / Fan
    • Open-top lid for radiation testing
    • Integration with heat pipes

EM / Flight – Production Sockets – Scalable Designs

Injection Molded Insulators
  • Molded interposer ideal for high volume manufacturing
  • ≥ 0.8mm pitch signal to signal
  • Custom contact patterns available (e.g. grid array, mixed pitch, coaxial)
Production Pallets for High-Speed Contact Loading
  • Contacts loaded at rate of 1 contact every .68 seconds
  • Multiple insulators loaded on single pallet
Production Metalwork
  • Screw-down compression lid, guide plates, and stiffener assemblies can be stamped or HVM machined for cost reduction
  • Designed with off-the-shelf hardware readily available
Design for Integration with Common Thermal Systems
  • Open top / heatsink
  • Active conduction cooling systems
    • Example (Left): soldered heat pipe options)
Cobot-Compatible Designs
  • Socket design incorporates flat faces for cobot to locate and pick and place
  • Cobot ready hardware selection
  • Manufacturing tolerances minimize variance to ensure success of programmable X/Y/Z location for non-vision systems

Component Material Selection – Outgassing
Insulator (Housing for Ardent Electrical Contacts)

De-risking & Qualification

Finite Element Analysis as basis of EM/FM mechanical design
  • Ensure sufficient compression force and mechanical support
  • Optimizing for weight reduction
  • Optimizing for footprint area reduction 
Third-Party Qualification
  • Ardent partners with multiple third-party, globally recognized, testing and qualification sites to ensure designs pass all qualifications required by your program

Defense and Space Qualification 

  • Third party Mil-Std 202 qualified (reports available)
  • Third party outgas testing (report available)
  • Currently designed into atmospheric flight (heritage) and aerospace (launches in 2023) applications globally
  • Recognized for Gold Tier Supplier status with BAE Systems as part of BAE Systems’ Partner 2 Win program

Signal Integrity Design for Best RF Performance

Ansys HFSS Simulation Capability
  • Can provide interposer model for preliminary evaluation 
  • Equivalent signal integrity characteristics between bench test and EM/FM 
  • Isolation / shielding effectiveness / susceptibility analysis
  • Contact test reports available
Unique and Custom Pattern Design
  • Example: coaxial pattern to improve RF Isolation of Tx/Rx signals
Socket footprint design optimization as a service
  • Simulating with actual board stack up
  • Review layout implementation

Support & Documentation

Support Documentation & Models
  • Full socket assembly drawing
  • 3D mechanical model export
  • Socket mechanical footprint spec. and drawing
  • Socket installation, inspection, care and maintenance guide
  • Design Checklist
Optional Resources and Support
  • Mechanical analysis result
  • Socket interposer HFSS model
  • Socket interposer HFSS model§Socket footprint optimization, with board implementation review
    • HFSS export with PCB model
  • Socket specifications review
  • Environmental qualification test support
    • Includes Test rig design and fabrication and third-party testing

Ardent Solutions Utilized in Payload Processors
Example Implementation

SK Series™


Ideal for Multi-GHz – ASIC, FPGA, router, modem, switch, and other high performing devices, Ardent’s SK Series™ Sockets offer exceptional electrical performance in flight-ready form factors ready for exposure to launch vibration, thermal cycling, and radiation, in space and defense applications.

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