Electromagnetic interference

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Electromagnetic interference in analog TV signal Analog TV EMI.jpg
Electromagnetic interference in analog TV signal

Electromagnetic interference (EMI), also called radio-frequency interference (RFI) when in the radio frequency spectrum, is a disturbance generated by an external source that affects an electrical circuit by electromagnetic induction, electrostatic coupling, or conduction. [1] The disturbance may degrade the performance of the circuit or even stop it from functioning. In the case of a data path, these effects can range from an increase in error rate to a total loss of the data. [2] Both man-made and natural sources generate changing electrical currents and voltages that can cause EMI: ignition systems, cellular network of mobile phones, lightning, solar flares, and auroras (northern/southern lights). EMI frequently affects AM radios. It can also affect mobile phones, FM radios, and televisions, as well as observations for radio astronomy and atmospheric science.

Radio frequency (RF) is the oscillation rate of an alternating electric current or voltage or of a magnetic, electric or electromagnetic field or mechanical system in the frequency range from around twenty thousand times per second to around three hundred billion times per second. This is roughly between the upper limit of audio frequencies and the lower limit of infrared frequencies; these are the frequencies at which energy from an oscillating current can radiate off a conductor into space as radio waves. Different sources specify different upper and lower bounds for the frequency range.

Electromagnetic induction production of voltage by a varying magnetic field

Electromagnetic or magnetic induction is the production of an electromotive force across an electrical conductor in a changing magnetic field.

An ignition system generates a spark or heats an electrode to a high temperature to ignite a fuel-air mixture in spark ignition internal combustion engines, oil-fired and gas-fired boilers, rocket engines, etc. The widest application for spark ignition internal combustion engines is in petrol (gasoline) road vehicles such as cars and motorcycles.

Contents

EMI can be used intentionally for radio jamming, as in electronic warfare.

Radio jamming is the deliberate jamming, blocking or interference with authorized wireless communications. In the United States, radio jamming devices are illegal and their use can result in large fines.

Electronic warfare (EW) is any action involving the use of the electromagnetic spectrum or directed energy to control the spectrum, attack an enemy, or impede enemy assaults. The purpose of electronic warfare is to deny the opponent the advantage of, and ensure friendly unimpeded access to, the EM spectrum. EW can be applied from air, sea, land, and/or space by manned and unmanned systems, and can target humans, communication, radar, or other assets.

History

Since the earliest days of radio communications, the negative effects of interference from both intentional and unintentional transmissions have been felt and the need to manage the radio frequency spectrum became apparent.

In 1933, a meeting of the International Electrotechnical Commission (IEC) in Paris recommended the International Special Committee on Radio Interference (CISPR) be set up to deal with the emerging problem of EMI. CISPR subsequently produced technical publications covering measurement and test techniques and recommended emission and immunity limits. These have evolved over the decades and form the basis of much of the world's EMC regulations today.

International Electrotechnical Commission organization

The International Electrotechnical Commission is an international standards organization that prepares and publishes international standards for all electrical, electronic and related technologies – collectively known as "electrotechnology". IEC standards cover a vast range of technologies from power generation, transmission and distribution to home appliances and office equipment, semiconductors, fibre optics, batteries, solar energy, nanotechnology and marine energy as well as many others. The IEC also manages four global conformity assessment systems that certify whether equipment, system or components conform to its international standards.

The Comité International Spécial des Perturbations Radioélectriques was founded in 1934 to set standards for controlling electromagnetic interference in electrical and electronic devices, and is a part of the International Electrotechnical Commission (IEC).

Electromagnetic compatibility

Electromagnetic compatibility (EMC) is the ability of electrical equipment and systems to function acceptably in their electromagnetic environment, by limiting the unintentional generation, propagation and reception of electromagnetic energy which may cause unwanted effects such as electromagnetic interference (EMI) or even physical damage in operational equipment. The goal of EMC is the correct operation of different equipment in a common electromagnetic environment. It is also the name given to the associated branch of electrical engineering.

In 1979, legal limits were imposed on electromagnetic emissions from all digital equipment by the FCC in the USA in response to the increased number of digital systems that were interfering with wired and radio communications. Test methods and limits were based on CISPR publications, although similar limits were already enforced in parts of Europe.

Federal Communications Commission Independent agency of the U.S. Government

The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) is an independent agency of the United States government created by statute to regulate interstate communications by radio, television, wire, satellite, and cable. The FCC maintains jurisdiction over the areas of broadband access, fair competition, radio frequency use, media responsibility, public safety, and homeland security.

In the mid 1980s, the European Union member states adopted a number of "new approach" directives with the intention of standardizing technical requirements for products so that they do not become a barrier to trade within the EC. One of these was the EMC Directive (89/336/EC) [3] and it applies to all equipment placed on the market or taken into service. Its scope covers all apparatus "liable to cause electromagnetic disturbance or the performance of which is liable to be affected by such disturbance".

This was the first time there was a legal requirement on immunity, as well as emissions on apparatus intended for the general population. Although there may be additional costs involved for some products to give them a known level of immunity, it increases their perceived quality as they are able to co-exist with apparatus in the active EM environment of modern times and with fewer problems.

Many countries now have similar requirements for products to meet some level of electromagnetic compatibility (EMC) regulation.

Types

Electromagnetic interference can be categorized as follows:

Conducted electromagnetic interference is caused by the physical contact of the conductors as opposed to radiated EMI, which is caused by induction (without physical contact of the conductors). Electromagnetic disturbances in the EM field of a conductor will no longer be confined to the surface of the conductor and will radiate away from it. This persists in all conductors and mutual inductance between two radiated electromagnetic fields will result in EMI.

ITU definition

Interference with the meaning of electromagnetic interference, also radio-frequency interference (short: EMI|RFI) is – according to Article 1.166 of the International Telecommunication Union 's (ITU) Radio Regulations (RR) [7] – defined as «The effect of unwanted energy due to one or a combination of emissions, radiations, or inductions upon reception in a radiocommunication system, manifested by any performance degradation, misinterpretation, or loss of information which could be extracted in the absence of such unwanted energy».

This is also a definition used by the frequency administration to provide frequency assignments and assignment of frequency channels to radio stations or systems, as well as to analyze electromagnetic compatibility between radiocommunication services.

In accordance with ITU RR (article 1) variations of interference are classified as follows:

Conducted interference

Conducted EMI is caused by the physical contact of the conductors as opposed to radiated EMI which is caused by induction (without physical contact of the conductors).

For lower frequencies, EMI is caused by conduction and, for higher frequencies, by radiation.

EMI through the ground wire is also very common in an electrical facility.

Susceptibilities of different radio technologies

Interference tends to be more troublesome with older radio technologies such as analogue amplitude modulation, which have no way of distinguishing unwanted in-band signals from the intended signal, and the omnidirectional antennas used with broadcast systems. Newer radio systems incorporate several improvements that enhance the selectivity. In digital radio systems, such as Wi-Fi, error-correction techniques can be used. Spread-spectrum and frequency-hopping techniques can be used with both analogue and digital signalling to improve resistance to interference. A highly directional receiver, such as a parabolic antenna or a diversity receiver, can be used to select one signal in space to the exclusion of others.

The most extreme example of digital spread-spectrum signalling to date is ultra-wideband (UWB), which proposes the use of large sections of the radio spectrum at low amplitudes to transmit high-bandwidth digital data. UWB, if used exclusively, would enable very efficient use of the spectrum, but users of non-UWB technology are not yet prepared to share the spectrum with the new system because of the interference it would cause to their receivers (the regulatory implications of UWB are discussed in the ultra-wideband article).

Interference to consumer devices

In the United States, the 1982 Public Law 97-259 allowed the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to regulate the susceptibility of consumer electronic equipment. [8] [9]

Potential sources of RFI and EMI include: [10] various types of transmitters, doorbell transformers, toaster ovens, electric blankets, ultrasonic pest control devices, electric bug zappers, heating pads, and touch controlled lamps. Multiple CRT computer monitors or televisions sitting too close to one another can sometimes cause a "shimmy" effect in each other, due to the electromagnetic nature of their picture tubes, especially when one of their de-gaussing coils is activated.

Electromagnetic interference at 2.4 GHz can be caused by 802.11b and 802.11g wireless devices, Bluetooth devices, baby monitors and cordless telephones, video senders, and microwave ovens.

Switching loads (inductive, capacitive, and resistive), such as electric motors, transformers, heaters, lamps, ballast, power supplies, etc., all cause electromagnetic interference especially at currents above 2 A. The usual method used for suppressing EMI is by connecting a snubber network, a resistor in series with a capacitor, across a pair of contacts. While this may offer modest EMI reduction at very low currents, snubbers do not work at currents over 2 A with electromechanical contacts. [11] [12]

Another method for suppressing EMI is the use of ferrite core noise suppressors, which are inexpensive and which clip on to the power lead of the offending device or the compromised device.

Switched-mode power supplies can be a source of EMI, but have become less of a problem as design techniques have improved, such as integrated power factor correction.

Most countries have legal requirements that mandate electromagnetic compatibility: electronic and electrical hardware must still work correctly when subjected to certain amounts of EMI, and should not emit EMI, which could interfere with other equipment (such as radios).

Radio frequency signal quality has declined throughout the 21st century by roughly one decibel per year as the spectrum becomes increasingly crowded.[ additional citation(s) needed ] This has inflicted a Red Queen's race on the mobile phone industry as companies have been forced to put up more cellular towers (at new frequencies) that then cause more interference thereby requiring more investment by the providers and frequent upgrades of mobile phones to match. [13]

Standards

The International Special Committee for Radio Interference or CISPR (French acronym for "Comité International Spécial des Perturbations Radioélectriques"), which is a committee of the International Electrotechnical Commission (IEC) sets international standards for radiated and conducted electromagnetic interference. These are civilian standards for domestic, commercial, industrial and automotive sectors. These standards form the basis of other national or regional standards, most notably the European Norms (EN) written by CENELEC (European committee for electrotechnical standardisation). US organizations include the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE), the American National Standards Institute (ANSI), and the US Military (MILSTD).

EMI in integrated circuits

Integrated circuits are often a source of EMI, but they must usually couple their energy to larger objects such as heatsinks, circuit board planes and cables to radiate significantly. [14]

On integrated circuits, important means of reducing EMI are: the use of bypass or decoupling capacitors on each active device (connected across the power supply, as close to the device as possible), rise time control of high-speed signals using series resistors, [15] and IC power supply pin filtering. Shielding is usually a last resort after other techniques have failed, because of the added expense of shielding components such as conductive gaskets.

The efficiency of the radiation depends on the height above the ground plane or power plane (at RF, one is as good as the other) and the length of the conductor in relation to the wavelength of the signal component (fundamental frequency, harmonic or transient such as overshoot, undershoot or ringing). At lower frequencies, such as 133  MHz, radiation is almost exclusively via I/O cables; RF noise gets onto the power planes and is coupled to the line drivers via the VCC and GND pins. The RF is then coupled to the cable through the line driver as common-mode noise. Since the noise is common-mode, shielding has very little effect, even with differential pairs. The RF energy is capacitively coupled from the signal pair to the shield and the shield itself does the radiating. One cure for this is to use a braid-breaker or choke to reduce the common-mode signal.

At higher frequencies, usually above 500 MHz, traces get electrically longer and higher above the plane. Two techniques are used at these frequencies: wave shaping with series resistors and embedding the traces between the two planes. If all these measures still leave too much EMI, shielding such as RF gaskets and copper tape can be used. Most digital equipment is designed with metal or conductive-coated plastic cases.

RF immunity and testing

Any unshielded semiconductor (e.g. an integrated circuit) will tend to act as a detector for those radio signals commonly found in the domestic environment (e.g. mobile phones). [16] Such a detector can demodulate the high frequency mobile phone carrier (e.g., GSM850 and GSM1900, GSM900 and GSM1800) and produce low-frequency (e.g., 217 Hz) demodulated signals. [17] This demodulation manifests itself as unwanted audible buzz in audio appliances such as microphone amplifier, speaker amplifier, car radio, telephones etc. Adding onboard EMI filters or special layout techniques can help in bypassing EMI or improving RF immunity. [18] Some ICs are designed (e.g., LMV831-LMV834, [19] MAX9724 [20] ) to have integrated RF filters or a special design that helps reduce any demodulation of high-frequency carrier.

Designers often need to carry out special tests for RF immunity of parts to be used in a system. These tests are often done in an anechoic chamber with a controlled RF environment where the test vectors produce a RF field similar to that produced in an actual environment. [17]

RFI in radio astronomy

Interference in radio astronomy, where it is commonly referred to as radio-frequency interference (RFI), is any source of transmission that is within the observed frequency band other than the celestial sources themselves. Because transmitters on and around the Earth can be many times stronger than the astronomical signal of interest, RFI is a major concern for performing radio astronomy. Natural sources of interference, such as lightning and the Sun, are also often referred to as RFI.

Some of the frequency bands that are very important for radio astronomy, such as the 21-cm HI line at 1420 MHz, are protected by regulation. This is called spectrum management. However, modern radio-astronomical observatories such as VLA, LOFAR, and ALMA have a very large bandwidth over which they can observe. Because of the limited spectral space at radio frequencies, these frequency bands cannot be completely allocated to radio astronomy. Therefore, observatories need to deal with RFI in their observations.

Techniques to deal with RFI range from filters in hardware to advanced algorithms in software. One way to deal with strong transmitters is to filter out the frequency of the source completely. This is for example the case for the LOFAR observatory, which filters out the FM radio stations between 90-110 MHz. It is important to remove such strong sources of interference as soon as possible, because they might "saturate" the highly sensitive receivers (amplifiers and analog-to-digital converters), which means that the received signal is stronger than the receiver can handle. However, filtering out a frequency band implies that these frequencies can never be observed with the instrument.

A common technique to deal with RFI within the observed frequency bandwidth, is to employ RFI detection in software. Such software can find samples in time, frequency or time-frequency space that are contaminated by an interfering source. These samples are subsequently ignored in further analysis of the observed data. This process is often referred to as data flagging. Because most transmitters have a small bandwidth and are not continuously present such as lightning or citizens' band (CB) radio devices, most of the data remains available for the astronomical analysis. However, data flagging can not solve issues with continuous broad-band transmitters, such as windmills, digital video or digital audio transmitters.

Another way to manage RFI is to establish a radio quiet zone (RQZ). RQZ is a well-defined area surrounding receivers that has special regulations to reduce RFI in favor of radio astronomy observations within the zone. The regulations may include special management of spectrum and power flux or power flux-density limitations. The controls within the zone may cover elements other than radio transmitters or radio devices. These include aircraft controls and control of unintentional radiators such as industrial, scientific and medical devices, vehicles, and power lines. The first RQZ for radio astronomy is United States National Radio Quiet Zone (NRQZ), established in 1958. [21]

RFI on environmental monitoring

Transmissions on adjacent bands to those used by passive remote sensing, such as weather satellites, have caused interference, sometimes significant. [22] There is concern that adoption of insufficiently regulated 5G could produce major interference issues. Significant interference can significantly impair numerical weather prediction performance and incur substantially negative economic and public safety impacts. [23] [24] [25] These concerns led US Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross and NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine in February 2019 to urge the FCC to cancel proposed spectrum auctioning, which was rejected. [26]

See also

Related Research Articles

Spread spectrum Spreading the frequency domain of a signal

In telecommunication and radio communication, spread-spectrum techniques are methods by which a signal generated with a particular bandwidth is deliberately spread in the frequency domain, resulting in a signal with a wider bandwidth. These techniques are used for a variety of reasons, including the establishment of secure communications, increasing resistance to natural interference, noise and jamming, to prevent detection, and to limit power flux density.

Transmitter Electronic device that emits radio waves

In electronics and telecommunications a transmitter or radio transmitter is an electronic device which produces radio waves with an antenna. The transmitter itself generates a radio frequency alternating current, which is applied to the antenna. When excited by this alternating current, the antenna radiates radio waves.

Faraday cage enclosure of conductive mesh used to block electric fields

A Faraday cage or Faraday shield is an enclosure used to block electromagnetic fields. A Faraday shield may be formed by a continuous covering of conductive material, or in the case of a Faraday cage, by a mesh of such materials. Faraday cages are named after the English scientist Michael Faraday, who invented them in 1836.

Ferrite bead passive electric component that suppresses high frequency noise in electronic circuits. It is a specific type of electronic choke

A ferrite bead or ferrite choke is a passive electric component that suppresses high-frequency noise in electronic circuits. It is a specific type of electronic choke. Ferrite beads employ high-frequency current dissipation in a ferrite ceramic to build high-frequency noise suppression devices. Ferrite beads may also be called blocks, cores, rings, EMI filters, or chokes.

Feed line Transmission line in radio antennas

In a radio antenna, the feed line (feedline), or feeder, is the cable or other transmission line that connects the antenna with the radio transmitter or receiver. In a transmitting antenna, it feeds the radio frequency (RF) current from the transmitter to the antenna, where it is radiated as radio waves. In a receiving antenna it transfers the tiny RF voltage induced in the antenna by the radio wave to the receiver. In order to carry RF current efficiently, feed lines are made of specialized types of cable called transmission line. The most widely used types of feed line are coaxial cable, twin-lead, ladder line, and at microwave frequencies, waveguide.

Radio noise in radio reception, the superposition of white noise on the signal

In radio reception, noise is unwanted random electrical signals always present in a radio receiver in addition to the desired radio signal. Radio noise is a combination of natural electromagnetic atmospheric noise created by electrical processes in the atmosphere like lightning, manmade radio frequency interference (RFI) from other electrical devices picked up by the receiver's antenna, and thermal noise present in the receiver input circuits, caused by the random thermal motion of molecules. The level of noise determines the maximum sensitivity and reception range of a radio receiver; if no noise were picked up with radio signals, even weak transmissions could be received at virtually any distance by making a radio receiver that was sensitive enough. With noise present, if a radio source is so weak and far away that the radio signal in the receiver has a lower amplitude than the average noise, the noise will drown out the signal.

Television interference (TVI) is a particular case of electromagnetic interference which affects television reception. Many natural and man-made phenomena can disrupt the reception of television signals. These include naturally occurring and artificial spark discharges, and effects due to the operation of radio transmitters.

A quasi-peak detector is a type of electronic detector or rectifier. Quasi-peak detectors for specific purposes have usually been standardized with mathematically precisely defined dynamic characteristics of attack time, integration time, and decay time or fall-back time.

An EMC problem occurs when one piece of electronic equipment or an electromagnetic system is adversely affected by the operation of another. One example might be breakthrough by the high field strengths produced by a nearby radio transmitter. EMC problems are not always due to defects in the transmitter, and so do not necessarily require improvements in the radio transmitter design, such as reducing its radiated harmonics. It may be that the immunity of the affected equipment is poor due to inadequate shielding, or filtering of sensitive inputs. EMC problems can have a range of effects on equipment, and there are ways to mitigate or eliminate them in practice. Effective EMC mitigation techniques may differ by the type of equipment that malfunctions, and by the nature of the strong radio frequency field.

In telecommunication, a measuring receiver or measurement receiver is a calibrated laboratory-grade radio receiver designed to measure the characteristics of radio signals. The parameters of such receivers can usually be adjusted over a much wider range of values than is the case with other radio receivers. Their circuitry is optimized for stability and to enable calibration and reproducible results. Some measurement receivers also have especially robust input circuits that can survive brief impulses of more than 1000 V, as they can occur during measurements of radio signals on power lines and other conductors.

Line Impedance Stabilization Network

A line impedance stabilization network (LISN) is a device used in conducted and radiated radio-frequency emission and susceptibility tests, as specified in various electromagnetic compatibility (EMC)/EMI test standards

In the field of EMC, active EMI reduction refers to techniques aimed to reduce or to filter electromagnetic noise (EMI) making use of active electronic components. Active EMI reduction contrasts with passive filtering techniques, such as RC filters, LC filters RLC filters, which includes only passive electrical components. Hybrid solutions including both active and passive elements exist. Standards concerning conducted and radiated emissions published by IEC and FCC set the maximum noise level allowed for different classes of electrical devices. The frequency range of interest spans from 150 kHz to 30 MHz for conducted emissions and from 30 MHz to 40 GHz for radiated emissions. Meeting these requirements and guaranteeing the functionality of an electrical apparatus subject to electromagnetic interference are the main reason to include an EMI filter. In an electrical system, power converters, i.e. DC/DC converters, inverters and rectifiers, are the major sources of conducted EMI, due to their high-frequency switching ratio which gives rise to unwanted fast current and voltage transients. Since power electronics is nowadays spread in many fields, from power industrial application to automotive industry, EMI filtering has become necessary. In other fields, such as the telecommunication industry where the major focus is on radiated emissions, other techniques have been developed for EMI reduction, such as spread spectrum clocking which makes use of digital electronics, or electromagnetic shielding.

Line filter

A line filter is the kind of electronic filter that is placed between an electronic equipment and a line external to it, to attenuate conducted radio frequencies -- RFI, also known as electromagnetic interference (EMI) -- between the line and the equipment.

Radio-frequency engineering, or RF engineering, is a subset of electrical and electronic engineering involving the application of transmission line, waveguide, antenna and electromagnetic field principles to the design and application of devices that produce or utilize signals within the radio band, the frequency range of about 20 kHz up to 300 GHz.

There are several uses of the 2.4 GHz band. Interference may occur between devices operating at 2.4 GHz. This article details the different users of the 2.4 GHz band, how they cause interference to other users and how they are prone to interference from other users.

One way of outlining the subject of radio science is listing the topics associated with it by authoritative bodies.

References

  1. Based on the "interference" entry of The Concise Oxford English Dictionary, 11th edition, online
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  8. Public Law 97-259
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