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Things Every Electrical Engineer

Should Know about EMC

Todd H. Hubing
Michelin Professor of Vehicular Electronics
Clemson University
“Signals have a current
as well as a voltage.”

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October 30, 2006 2
Ground Loop Example

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Ground Loop Example

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Ground Loop Example

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“Currents return to their
source and take the path(s) of
least impedance.”

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EMC course final exam question

After passing through a CMOS input, signal


current always ultimately flows:

a.) to digital ground


b.) to the earth
c.) back to the source
d.) all of the above
e.) it doesn’t matter.

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Identify Current Paths

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Identify Current Paths

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Identify Current Paths

Current takes the path of least impedance!

> 100 kHz this is generally the path of least inductance


< 10 kHz this is generally the path(s) of least resistance

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Identify Current Paths

Where does the 56 MHz return current flow?

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Ground Loop Example 2

Trace the path of the digital and analog return currents.

D/A

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October 30, 2006 12
Ground Loop Example 2

Trace the path of the digital and analog return currents.

D/A

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October 30, 2006 13
Ground Loop Example 2

Trace the path of the digital and analog return currents.

D/A

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October 30, 2006 14
Rules for Gapping a Ground Plane

1. Don’t do it!

2. If you must do it, never ever allow a trace or


another plane to cross over the gap.

3. If you must do it, never ever place a gap


between two connectors.

4. See Rule #1!

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October 30, 2006 15
“Fast transition times correspond
to more high-frequency content
in digital signals.”

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Signal Termination

Digital Signal Voltages

t
f

t f

Control transition times of digital signals!

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“Efficient antennas below a
few GHz are easy to spot.”

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October 30, 2006 18
Identify Antennas

What makes an efficient antenna?

λ/2

Half-Wave Dipole

Electrically Small Loop

λ/4 Quarter-Wave Monopole


• Size
• Two Halves

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October 30, 2006 19
Recognize Coupling Mechanisms

Voltage Driven
Signal or component voltage appears between two good antenna parts.

Example:

Vs = 1 volt @ 500 MHz


Erad ≈ 360 mV / m @ 3 meters

More than 60 dB above the FCC Class B limit!

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Recognize Coupling Mechanisms

Current Driven
Signal current loop induces a voltage between two good antenna parts.

- Vcm +

Current driven voltage tend to be 3 or 4 orders of magnitude


smaller than voltage driven voltages. However, antenna
efficiencies can be 5 or 6 orders of magnitude higher.

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October 30, 2006 21
“The circuit board traces with the
most high-frequency current are not
necessarily the high-frequency signal
traces.”

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October 30, 2006 22
Identify Sources
Active Devices (Power Pins)

For some ICs, the high-frequency currents drawn from the power pins
can be much greater than the high-frequency currents in the signals!

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Identify Sources
Noise on the low-speed I/O

For some ICs, significant high-frequency currents appear on low-speed


I/O including outputs that never change state during normal operation!

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To Avoid EMC Problems

Use common sense!


Visualize signal current paths
Locate antennas and crosstalk paths
Be aware of potential EMI sources

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