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ElectroMagnetic Interference

Special Topics

Definition of Terms:
Electromagnetic Interference - The process by which disruptive electromagnetic(EM) energy is transmitted from one electronic device to another via radiated or conducted paths (or both). In common usage, the term refers particularly to RF signals; however, EMI is observed throughout the EM spectrum. Electromagnetic Compatibility - The capability of electrical and electronic systems, equipment, and devices to operate in their intended electromagnetic environment within a defined margin of safety and at design levels or performance without suffering or causing unacceptable degradation as a result of electromagnetic interference.

Definition of Terms:
Radio Frequency - A frequency range containing coherent EM radiation of energy useful for communication purposes roughly the range from 9 kHz to 300 GHz. This energy may be emitted as a by-product of an electronic devices operation. Radio frequency is emitted through two basic mechanisms:

Radiated Emissions - The component of RF energy that is emitted through a medium as an EM field. Although RF energy is usually emitted through free space, other modes of field transmission may be present. Conducted Emissions - The component of RF energy that is emitted through a medium as a propagating wave generally through a wire or interconnect cables. Lineconducted interference (LCI) refers to RF energy in a power cord or alternating-current (AC) mains input cable. Conducted signals propagate as conducted waves.

Definition of Terms:
Susceptibility - A relative measure of a device or a systems propensity to be disrupted or damaged by EMI exposure to an incident field. It is the lack of immunity. Immunity - A relative measure of a device or systems ability to withstand EMI exposure while maintaining a predefined performance level. Electrostatic Discharge (ESD) - A transfer of electric charge between bodies of different electrostatic potential in proximity or through direct contact. This definition is observed as a high-voltage pulse that may cause damage or loss of functionality to susceptible devices.

Definition of Terms:
Radiated Immunity - A products relative ability to withstand EM energy that arrives via free-space propagation. Conducted Immunity - A products relative ability to withstand EM energy that penetrates through external cables, power cords, and inputoutput (I/O) interconnects. Containment - A process whereby RF energy is prevented from exiting an enclosure, generally by shielding a product within a metal enclosure (Faraday cage or Gaussian structure) or by using a plastic housing with RF conductive coating. Reciprocally, we can also speak of containment in the inverse, as exclusion preventing RF energy from entering the enclosure.

Definition of Terms:
Suppression - The process of reducing or eliminating RF energy that exists without relying on a secondary method, such as a metal housing or chassis. Suppression may include shielding and filtering as well. Voltage Probe - A transducer that measures the voltage level in a transmission line. This probe consists of a series resistor, a direct-current (DC) blocking capacitor, and an inductor to provide a low-impedance input to a receiver. It is used for direct connection to a transmission line and is unaffected by the current level present. Current Probe - A transducer that measures the current level in a transmission line. This probe consists of a magnetic core material that detects the magnitude of magnetic flux present and presents this field measurement to a receiver.

Definition of Terms:
Sniffer Probe - Any small transducer used to isolate or locate radiating RF energy. Through EM field coupling, calibration of the measurement is not a concern since the process is comparative. FET Probe - A high-impedance transducer used to measure signal characteristics in a transmission line without adding a capacitive load or affecting performance of the propagating wave. Spectrum Analyzer - An instrument primarily used to display the power distribution of an incoming signal as a function of frequency. Useful in analyzing the characteristics of electrical waveforms by repetitively sweeping through a frequency range of interest and displaying all components of the signal being investigated.

Definition of Terms:
Oscilloscope - An instrument primarily used for making visible the instantaneous value of one or more rapidly varying electrical quantities as a function of time. Correlation Analyzer - Similar to a spectrum analyzer, but has two inputs that are frequency and time synchronized to each other. This allows use of digital signal processors for analysis of input signals. Line Impedance Stabilization Network (LISN) - A network inserted in the supply mains load of an apparatus to be tested that provides, in a given frequency range, a specified load impedance for the measurement of disturbance voltages and which may isolate the apparatus from the supply mains in that frequency range. Also identified as an artificial mains network.

Definition of Terms:
Antenna - A device used for transmitting or receiving EM signals or power. Designed to maximize coupling to an EM field. Biconical - An antenna consisting of two conical conductors that have a common axis and vertex and are excited or connected to a receiver at the vertex point. Log Periodic - A class of antennas having a structural geometry such that its impedance and radiation characteristic repeat periodically as the logarithm of frequency.

Definition of Terms:
Bilog - A single antenna that combines the features and EM characteristics of both biconical and log periodic antennas into one assembly. Loop - An antenna in the shape of a coil that is sensitive to magnetic fields and shielded against electric fields. A magnetic field component perpendicular to the plane of the loop induces a voltage across the coil that is proportional to frequency according to Faradays law.

Horn - A radiating or receiving aperture having the shape of a horn. Generally used in the frequency range above 1 GHz..

Five Major Considerations


1. Frequency. Where in the frequency spectrum is the problem observed? 2. Amplitude. How strong is the source energy level and how great is its potential to cause harmful interference? 3. Time. Is the problem continuous (periodic signals) or does it exist only during certain cycles of operation (e.g., disk drive write operation or network burst transmission)? 4. Impedance. What is the impedance of both the source and receptor units and the impedance of the transfer mechanism (related to separation distance, which affects wave impedance) between the two? 5. Dimensions. What are the physical dimensions of the emitting device (or device groups) that cause emissions to be observed?