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# Characteristic impedance

Suppose, though, that we had a set of parallel wires of infinite length, with no lamp at the end. What would happen when we close the switch? Being that there is no longer a load at the end of the wires, this circuit is open. Would there be no current at all? (Figure below)

Driving an infinite transmission line. Despite being able to avoid wire resistance through the use of superconductors in this thought e!periment," we cannot eliminate capacitance along the wires# lengths. Any pair of conductors separated b\$ an insulating medium creates capacitance between those conductors% (Figure below)

Equivalent circuit showing stray capacitance between conductors. &oltage applied between two conductors creates an electric field between those conductors. 'nerg\$ is stored in this electric field, and this storage of energ\$ results in an opposition to change in voltage. (he reaction of a capacitance against changes in voltage is described b\$ the e)uation i * +(de,dt), which tells us that current will be drawn proportional to the voltage#s rate of change over time. (hus, when the switch is closed, the capacitance between conductors will react against the sudden voltage increase b\$ charging up and drawing current from the source. -ccording to the e)uation, an instant rise in applied voltage (as produced b\$ perfect switch closure) gives rise to an infinite charging current. .owever, the current drawn b\$ a pair of parallel wires will not be infinite, because there e!ists series impedance along the wires due to inductance. (Figurebelow) /emember that current through any conductor develops a magnetic field of proportional magnitude. 'nerg\$ is stored in this magnetic field, (Figurebelow) and this storage of energ\$ results in an opposition to change in current.

'ach wire develops a magnetic field as it carries charging current for the capacitance between the wires, and in so doing drops voltage according to the inductance e)uation e * 0(di,dt). (his voltage drop limits the voltage rate1of1change across the distributed capacitance, preventing the current from ever reaching an infinite magnitude%

## Equivalent circuit showing stray capacitance and inductance.

Voltage charges capacitance, current charges inductance. Because the electrons in the two wires transfer motion to and from each other at nearl\$ the speed of light, the wave front" of voltage and current change will propagate down the length of the wires at that same velocit\$, resulting in the distributed capacitance and inductance progressivel\$ charging to full voltage and current, respectivel\$, li2e this% (Figures below, below, below, below)

## ontinue wave propagation.

!ropagate at speed of light. (he end result of these interactions is a constant current of limited magnitude through the batter\$ source. Since the wires are infinitel\$ long, their distributed capacitance will never full\$ charge to the source voltage, and their distributed inductance will never allow unlimited charging current. 3n other words, this pair of wires will draw current from the source so long as the switch is closed, behaving as a constant load. 4o longer are the wires merel\$ conductors of electrical current and carriers of voltage, but now constitute a circuit component in themselves, with uni)ue characteristics. 4o longer are the two wires merel\$ a pair of conductors, but rather a transmission line. -s a constant load, the transmission line#s response to applied voltage is resistive rather than reactive, despite being comprised purel\$ of inductance and capacitance (assuming superconducting wires with 5ero resistance). We can sa\$ this because there is no difference from the batter\$#s perspective between a resistor eternall\$ dissipating energ\$ and an infinite transmission line eternall\$ absorbing energ\$. (he impedance (resistance) of this line in ohms is called the characteristic impedance, and it is fi!ed b\$ the geometr\$ of the two conductors. For a parallel1wire line with air insulation, the characteristic impedance ma\$ be calculated as such%

3f the transmission line is coa!ial in construction, the characteristic impedance follows a different e)uation%

3n both e)uations, identical units of measurement must be used in both terms of the fraction. 3f the insulating material is other than air (or a vacuum), both the characteristic impedance and the propagation velocit\$ will be affected. (he ratio of a transmission line#s true propagation velocit\$ and the speed of light in a vacuum is called the velocity factor of that line. &elocit\$ factor is purel\$ a factor of the insulating material#s relative permittivit\$ (otherwise 2nown as its dielectric constant), defined as the ratio of a material#s electric field permittivit\$ to that of a pure

vacuum. (he velocit\$ factor of an\$ cable t\$pe 11 coa!ial or otherwise 11 ma\$ be calculated )uite simpl\$ b\$ the following formula%

+haracteristic impedance is also 2nown as natural impedance, and it refers to the e)uivalent resistance of a transmission line if it were infinitel\$ long, owing to distributed capacitance and inductance as the voltage and current waves" propagate along its length at a propagation velocit\$ e)ual to some large fraction of light speed. 3t can be seen in either of the first two e)uations that a transmission line#s characteristic impedance (67) increases as the conductor spacing increases. 3f the conductors are moved awa\$ from each other, the distributed capacitance will decrease (greater spacing between capacitor plates"), and the distributed inductance will increase (less cancellation of the two opposing magnetic fields). 0ess parallel capacitance and more series inductance results in a smaller current drawn b\$ the line for an\$ given amount of applied voltage, which b\$ definition is a greater impedance. +onversel\$, bringing the two conductors closer together increases the parallel capacitance and decreases the series inductance. Both changes result in a larger current drawn for a given applied voltage, e)uating to a lesser impedance. Barring an\$ dissipative effects such as dielectric lea2age" and conductor resistance, the characteristic impedance of a transmission line is e)ual to the s)uare root of the ratio of the line#s inductance per unit length divided b\$ the line#s capacitance per unit length%

REVIEW: - transmission line is a pair of parallel conductors e!hibiting certain characteristics due to distributed capacitance and inductance along its length. When a voltage is suddenl\$ applied to one end of a transmission line, both a voltage wave" and a current wave" propagate along the line at nearl\$ light speed. 3f a D+ voltage is applied to one end of an infinitel\$ long transmission line, the line will draw current from the D+ source as though it were a constant resistance. (he characteristic impedance (67) of a transmission line is the resistance it would e!hibit if it were infinite in length. (his is entirel\$ different from lea2age resistance of the dielectric separating the two conductors, and the metallic resistance of the wires themselves. +haracteristic impedance is purel\$ a function of the capacitance and inductance distributed along the line#s length, and would e!ist even if the dielectric were perfect (infinite parallel resistance) and the wires superconducting (5ero series resistance). Velocity factor is a fractional value relating a transmission line#s propagation speed to the speed of light in a vacuum. &alues range between 7.88 and 7.97 for t\$pical two1wire lines and coa!ial cables. For an\$ cable t\$pe, it is e)ual to the reciprocal (:,!) of the s)uare root of the relative permittivit\$ of the cable#s insulation.

Characteristic impedance

This article is about impedance in electrical circuits. For impedance of electromagnetic waves, see Wave impedance. For characteristic acoustic impedance, see Acoustic impedance.

A transmission line drawn as two black wires. At a distance x into the line, there is current phasor I(x) traveling through each wire, and there is a voltage difference phasor (x) between the wires (bottom voltage minus top voltage). f then for a wave moving rightward, or is the characteristic impedance of the line, for a wave moving leftward.

!chematic representation of a circuitwhere a source is coupled to a load with atransmission line having characteristic impedance

"he characteristic impedance or surge impedance of a uniform transmission line, usually written #\$, is the ratio of the amplitudes of voltage and current of a single wave propagating along the line% that is, a wave travelling in one direction in the absence of reflections in the other direction. Characteristic impedance is determined by the geometry and materials of the transmission line and, for a uniform line, is not dependent on its length. "he ! unit of characteristic impedance is the ohm. "he characteristic impedance of a lossless transmission line is purely resistive, with no reactive component. &nergy supplied by a source at one end of such a line is transmitted through the line without being dissipated in the line itself. A transmission line of finite length (lossless or lossy) that is terminated at one end with a resistor e'ual to the characteristic impedance appears to the source like an infinitely long transmission line. "hat is to say that, properly terminated, the end of a transmission line produces no reflections.
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* "ransmission line model + ,ossless line - !urge impedance loading . !ee also / 0eferences 1 &2ternal links

## !chematic representation of the elementary components of a transmission line.

"he characteristic impedance of a transmission line is the ratio of the voltage and current of a wave travelling along the line. When the wave reaches the end of the line, in general, there will be a reflected wave which

travels back along the line in the opposite direction. When this wave reaches the source, it adds to the transmitted wave and the ratio of the voltage and current at the input to the line will no longer be the characteristic impedance. "his new ratio is called the input impedance. "he input impedance of an infinite line is e'ual to the characteristic impedance since the transmitted wave is never reflected back from the end. t can be shown that an e'uivalent definition is3 the characteristic impedance of a line is that impedance which when terminating an arbitrary length of line at its output will produce an input impedance e'ual to the characteristic impedance. "his is so because there is no reflection on a line terminated in its own characteristic impedance. Applying the transmission line model based on the telegrapher4s e'uations, the general e2pression for the characteristic impedance of a transmission line is3

where is the resistance per unit length, considering the two conductors to be in series, is the inductance per unit length, is the conductance of the dielectric per unit length, is the capacitance per unit length, is the imaginary unit, and is the angular fre'uency. Although an infinite line is assumed, since all 'uantities are per unit length, the characteristic impedance is independent of the length of the transmission line. "he voltage and current phasors on the line are related by the characteristic impedance as3

and

## represent forward5 and backward5

traveling waves, respectively. A surge of energy on a finite transmission line will see an impedance of !\$ prior to any reflections arriving, hence surge impedance is an alternative name for characteristic impedance.

Lossless line
For a lossless line, " and # are both 6ero, so the e'uation for characteristic impedance reduces to3

"he imaginary term \$ has also canceled out, making !% a real e2pression, and so is purely resistive.