Ferrite core

Last updated
Several ferrite cores Ferrite cores.jpg
Several ferrite cores

In electronics, a ferrite core is a type of magnetic core made of ferrite on which the windings of electric transformers and other wound components such as inductors are formed. It is used for its properties of high magnetic permeability coupled with low electrical conductivity (which helps prevent eddy currents). Because of their comparatively low losses at high frequencies, they are extensively used in the cores of RF transformers and inductors in applications such as switched-mode power supplies, and ferrite loopstick antennas for AM radio receivers.

Electronics physics, engineering, technology and applications that deal with the emission, flow and control of electrons in vacuum and matter

Electronics comprises the physics, engineering, technology and applications that deal with the emission, flow and control of electrons in vacuum and matter.

A magnetic core is a piece of magnetic material with a high magnetic permeability used to confine and guide magnetic fields in electrical, electromechanical and magnetic devices such as electromagnets, transformers, electric motors, generators, inductors, magnetic recording heads, and magnetic assemblies. It is made of ferromagnetic metal such as iron, or ferrimagnetic compounds such as ferrites. The high permeability, relative to the surrounding air, causes the magnetic field lines to be concentrated in the core material. The magnetic field is often created by a current-carrying coil of wire around the core.

Ferrite (magnet) ceramic materials, many of them magnetic

A ferrite is a ceramic material made by mixing and firing large proportions of iron(III) oxide (Fe2O3, rust) blended with small proportions of one or more additional metallic elements, such as barium, manganese, nickel, and zinc. They are both electrically non-conductive, meaning that they are insulators, and ferrimagnetic, meaning they can easily be magnetized or attracted to a magnet. Ferrites can be divided into two families based on their resistance to being demagnetized (magnetic coercivity).



Ferrites are ceramic compounds of the transition metals with oxygen, which are ferrimagnetic but nonconductive. Ferrites that are used in transformer or electromagnetic cores contain iron oxides combined with nickel, zinc, and/or manganese compounds. They have a low coercivity and are called "soft ferrites" to distinguish them from "hard ferrites", which have a high coercivity and are used to make ferrite magnets. The low coercivity means the material's magnetization can easily reverse direction without dissipating much energy (hysteresis losses), while the material's high resistivity prevents eddy currents in the core, another source of energy loss. The most common soft ferrites are:

In chemistry, the term transition metal has three possible meanings:

Oxygen Chemical element with atomic number 8

Oxygen is the chemical element with the symbol O and atomic number 8, meaning its nucleus has 8 protons. The number of neutrons varies according to the isotope: the stable isotopes have 8, 9, or 10 neutrons. Oxygen is a member of the chalcogen group on the periodic table, a highly reactive nonmetal, and an oxidizing agent that readily forms oxides with most elements as well as with other compounds. By mass, oxygen is the third-most abundant element in the universe, after hydrogen and helium. At standard temperature and pressure, two atoms of the element bind to form dioxygen, a colorless and odorless diatomic gas with the formula O
. Diatomic oxygen gas constitutes 20.8% of the Earth's atmosphere. As compounds including oxides, the element makes up almost half of the Earth's crust.

Transformer electrical device that transfers energy through electromagnetic induction

A transformer is a passive electrical device that transfers electrical energy between two or more circuits. A varying current in one coil of the transformer produces a varying magnetic flux, which, in turn, induces a varying electromotive force across a second coil wound around the same core. Electrical energy can be transferred between the two coils, without a metallic connection between the two circuits. Faraday's law of induction discovered in 1831 described the induced voltage effect in any coil due to changing magnetic flux encircled by the coil.

Permeability (electromagnetism) measure of the ability of a material to support the formation of a magnetic field within itself

In electromagnetism, permeability is the measure of the ability of a material to support the formation of a magnetic field within itself, otherwise known as distributed inductance in transmission line theory. Hence, it is the degree of magnetization that a material obtains in response to an applied magnetic field. Magnetic permeability is typically represented by the (italicized) Greek letter μ. The term was coined in September 1885 by Oliver Heaviside. The reciprocal of magnetic permeability is magnetic reluctivity.

Saturation (magnetic)

Seen in some magnetic materials, saturation is the state reached when an increase in applied external magnetic field H cannot increase the magnetization of the material further, so the total magnetic flux density B more or less levels off. Saturation is a characteristic of ferromagnetic and ferrimagnetic materials, such as iron, nickel, cobalt and their alloys.

For applications below 5 MHz, MnZn ferrites are used; above that, NiZn is the usual choice. The exception is with common mode inductors, where the threshold of choice is at 70 MHz. [1]

As any given blend has a trade off of maximum usable frequency, versus a higher mu value, within each of these sub-groups manufacturers produce a wide range materials for different applications blended to give either a high initial (low frequency) inductance, or lower inductance and higher maximum frequency, or for interference suppression ferrites, a very wide frequency range, but often with a very high loss factor (low Q).

<i>Q</i> factor

In physics and engineering the quality factor or Q factor is a dimensionless parameter that describes how underdamped an oscillator or resonator is, and characterizes a resonator's bandwidth relative to its centre frequency. Higher Q indicates a lower rate of energy loss relative to the stored energy of the resonator; the oscillations die out more slowly. A pendulum suspended from a high-quality bearing, oscillating in air, has a high Q, while a pendulum immersed in oil has a low one. Resonators with high quality factors have low damping, so that they ring or vibrate longer.

It is important to select the right material for the application, as the correct ferrite for a 100 kHz switching supply (high inductance, low loss, low frequency) is quite different from that for an RF transformer or ferrite rod antenna, (high frequency low loss, but lower inductance), and different again from a suppression ferrite (high loss, broadband)

Electromagnetic interference Disturbance generated in an electrical circuit due to external fields or sources of radio-frequency electromagnetic radiation

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. 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. 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. 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.


There are two broad applications for ferrite cores which differ in size and frequency of operation: signal transformers, which are of small size and higher frequencies, and power transformers, which are of large size and lower frequencies. Cores can also be classified by shape, such as toroidal cores, shell cores or cylindrical cores.

The ferrite cores used for power transformers work in the low frequency range (1 to 200 kHz usually) and are fairly large in size, can be toroidal, shell, or shaped like the letters ‘C’, ‘D’, or ‘E’. They are useful in all kinds of electronic switching devices especially power supplies from 1 Watt to 1000 Watts maximum, since more powerful applications are usually out of range of ferritic single core and require grain oriented lamination cores.

The ferrite cores used for signals have a range of applications from 1 kHz to many MHz, perhaps as much as 300 MHz, and have found their main application in electronics, such as in AM radios and RFID tags.

Ferrite rod aerial

Loopstick antenna from an AM radio having two windings, one for long wave and one for medium wave (AM broadcast) reception. Typically 10 cm long, these loop antennas are usually hidden inside the radio receiver. Ferrite antenna.jpg
Loopstick antenna from an AM radio having two windings, one for long wave and one for medium wave (AM broadcast) reception. Typically 10 cm long, these loop antennas are usually hidden inside the radio receiver.

Ferrite rod aerials (or antennas) are a type of small magnetic loop (SML) antenna [2] [3] very common in AM radio broadcast band transistor radios, although they began to be used in vacuum tube ("valve") radios in the 1950s. They are also useful in very low frequency (VLF) receivers, [4] and can sometimes give good results over most of the shortwave frequencies (assuming a suitable ferrite is used). They consist of a coil of wire wound around a ferrite rod core (usually several inches longer than the coil, but sometimes over 3 feet long [5] ). This core effectively ‘concentrates’ the magnetic field of the radio waves [6] to give a stronger signal than could be obtained by an air core loop antenna of comparable size, although still not as strong as the signal that could be obtained with a good outdoor wire aerial.

Other names include loopstick antenna , ferrod, and ferrite-rod antenna. "Ferroceptor" [7] is an older alternative name for a ferrite rod aerial, particularly used by Philips where the ferrite core would be called a "Ferroxcube" rod (a brand name acquired by Yageo from Philips in the year 2000). The short terms ferrite rod or ‘loop-stick’ sometimes refers to the coil-plus-ferrite combination that takes the place of both an external antenna and the radio’s first tuned circuit, or just the ferrite core itself (the cylindrical rod or flat ferrite slab).

See also

Related Research Articles

Electromagnetic coil electrical component

An electromagnetic coil is an electrical conductor such as a wire in the shape of a coil, spiral or helix. Electromagnetic coils are used in electrical engineering, in applications where electric currents interact with magnetic fields, in devices such as electric motors, generators, inductors, electromagnets, transformers, and sensor coils. Either an electric current is passed through the wire of the coil to generate a magnetic field, or conversely an external time-varying magnetic field through the interior of the coil generates an EMF (voltage) in the conductor.

Inductor Passive two-terminal electrical component that stores energy in its magnetic field

An inductor, also called a coil, choke, or reactor, is a passive two-terminal electrical component that stores energy in a magnetic field when electric current flows through it. An inductor typically consists of an insulated wire wound into a coil around a core.

Inductive coupling

In electrical engineering, two conductors are said to be inductively coupled or magnetically coupled when they are configured such that a change in current through one wire induces a voltage across the ends of the other wire through electromagnetic induction. A changing current through the first wire creates a changing magnetic field around it by Ampere's circuital law. The changing magnetic field induces an electromotive force in the second wire by Faraday's law of induction. The amount of inductive coupling between two conductors is measured by their mutual inductance.

Medium frequency The range 300-3000 kHz of the electromagnetic spectrum

Medium frequency (MF) is the ITU designation for radio frequencies (RF) in the range of 300 kilohertz (kHz) to 3 megahertz (MHz). Part of this band is the medium wave (MW) AM broadcast band. The MF band is also known as the hectometer band as the wavelengths range from ten to one hectometer. Frequencies immediately below MF are denoted low frequency (LF), while the first band of higher frequencies is known as high frequency (HF). MF is mostly used for AM radio broadcasting, navigational radio beacons, maritime ship-to-shore communication, and transoceanic air traffic control.

Rogowski coil

A Rogowski coil, named after Walter Rogowski, is an electrical device for measuring alternating current (AC) or high-speed current pulses. It consists of a helical coil of wire with the lead from one end returning through the centre of the coil to the other end, so that both terminals are at the same end of the coil. The whole assembly is then wrapped around the straight conductor whose current is to be measured. There is no metal (iron) core. The winding density, the diameter of the coil and the rigidity of the winding are critical for preserving immunity to external fields and low sensitivity to the positioning of the measured conductor.


A balun is an electrical device that converts between a balanced signal and an unbalanced signal. A balun can take many forms and may include devices that also transform impedances but need not do so. Transformer baluns can also be used to connect lines of differing impedance. Sometimes, in the case of transformer baluns, they use magnetic coupling but need not do so. Common-mode chokes are also used as baluns and work by eliminating, rather than ignoring, common mode signals.

Antenna tuner Telecommunications device

Antenna tuner, matching network, matchbox, transmatch, antenna tuning unit (ATU), antenna coupler, and feedline coupler are all equivalent names for a device connected between a radio transmitter and its antenna, to improve power transfer between them by matching the specified load impedance of the radio to the combined input impedance of the feedline and the antenna.

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.

Electrodeless lamp

The internal electrodeless lamp or induction lamp is a gas discharge lamp in which an electric or magnetic field transfers the power required to generate light from outside the lamp envelope to the gas inside. This is in contrast to a typical gas discharge lamp that uses internal electrodes connected to the power supply by conductors that pass through the lamp envelope. Eliminating the internal electrodes provides two advantages:

Loop antenna type of radio antenna

A loop antenna is a radio antenna consisting of a loop or coil of wire, tubing, or other electrical conductor usually fed by a balanced source or feeding a balanced load. Within this physical description there are two distinct antenna types. The large self-resonant loop antenna has a circumference close to one wavelength of the operating frequency and so is resonant at that frequency. This category also includes smaller loops 5% to 30% of a wavelength in circumference, which use a capacitor to make them resonant. These antennas are used for both transmission and reception. In contrast, small loop antennas less than 1% of a wavelength in size are very inefficient radiators, and so are only used for reception. An example is the ferrite (loopstick) antenna used in most AM broadcast radios. Loop antennas have a dipole radiation pattern; they are most sensitive to radio waves in two broad lobes in opposite directions, 180° apart. Due to this directional pattern they are used for radio direction finding (RDF), to locate the position of a transmitter.

Choke (electronics) A type of electronic inductor

In electronics, a choke is an inductor used to block higher-frequency while passing direct current (DC) and lower-frequencies of alternating current (AC) in an electrical circuit. A choke usually consists of a coil of insulated wire often wound on a magnetic core, although some consist of a doughnut-shaped "bead" of ferrite material strung on a wire. The choke's impedance increases with frequency. Its low electrical resistance passes both AC and DC with little power loss, but its reactance limits the amount of AC passed.


A braid-breaker is a filter that prevents television interference (TVI). In many cases of TVI, caused by a high field strength of a nearby high frequency (HF) transmitter, the aerial down lead plugged into the back of the TV acts as a longwire antenna or as a simple vertical element. The radio frequency (RF) current flowing through the tuner of the TV tends to generate harmonics which then spoil the viewing.

Transformer types

A variety of types of electrical transformer are made for different purposes. Despite their design differences, the various types employ the same basic principle as discovered in 1831 by Michael Faraday, and share several key functional parts.

Toroidal inductors and transformers

Toroidal inductors and transformers are inductors and transformers which use magnetic cores with a toroidal shape. They are passive electronic components, consisting of a circular ring or donut shaped magnetic core of ferromagnetic material such as laminated iron, iron powder, or ferrite, around which wire is wound.

The article Ferromagnetic material properties is intended to contain a glossary of terms used to describe ferromagnetic materials, and magnetic cores.

Sheath current filter

Sheath current filters are electronic components that can prevent noise signals travelling in the sheath of sheathed cables, which can cause interference. Using sheath current filters, ground loops causing mains hum and high frequency common-mode signals can be prevented.

A Molypermalloy Powder (MPP) core is a toroidal magnetic core comprised from the powder of multiple alloys. It is distributed with air gaps to help condense its magnetic field to minimize core losses. Its composition is made from approximately 79% nickel, 17% iron, and 4% molybdenum.


  1. "Learn More Ferrites - Magnetics®".
  2. "page5".
  3. "Very Weak Signal Reception with Small Magnetic Loop Antenna".
  4. "The Creative Science Centre - by Dr Jonathan P. Hare".
  5. 05-25-2012, DB8MW. "A Joy Stick Antenna Experiment by DB8MW".
  6. "Ferrite Rod Antenna :: Radio-Electronics.Com".
  7. Service manual from Philips Radioplayer: Model BZ456A