EMC design consideration is becoming an indispensable part of product design. The rise of 3G, WiFi, and other features in mobile phones and similar enhancements in product design have served as key drivers for EMI shielding solutions. For example, in the automotive sector, the increasing adoption of navigation systems and wireless based infotainment systems are opening new revenue opportunities for EMI shielding solutions.
Typical materials used for electromagnetic shielding include sheet metal, metal screen, and metal foam. Any holes in the shield or mesh must be significantly smaller than the wavelength of the radiation that is being kept out, or the enclosure will not effectively approximate an unbroken conducting surface.
Another commonly used shielding method, especially with electronic goods housed in plastic enclosures, is to coat the inside of the enclosure with a metallic ink or similar material. The ink consists of a carrier material loaded with a suitable metal, typically copper or nickel, in the form of very small particulates. It is sprayed on to the enclosure and, once dry, produces a continuous conductive layer of metal, which can be electrically connected to the chassis ground of the equipment, thus providing effective shielding.
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Electromagnetic Compatibility (EMC) is defined as the ability of an electrical device to work efficiently in an electromagnetic environment without being affected by or influencing the other devices present in its vicinity. The miniaturization of electronic devices and components has increased the complexity of devices and also given rise to more EMI problems. The increased complexity of devices, in turn, poses a serious challenge to implementation of EMC shielding solutions.
Electromagnetic radiation consists of coupled electric and magnetic fields. The electric field produces forces on the charge carriers (i.e. electrons) within the conductor. As soon as an electric field is applied to the surface of an ideal conductor, it induces a current that causes displacement of charge inside the conductor that cancels the applied field inside, at which point the current stops.
Similarly, varying magnetic fields generate eddy currents that act to cancel the applied magnetic field. (The conductor does not respond to static magnetic fields unless the conductor is moving relative to the magnetic field.) The result is that electromagnetic radiation is reflected from the surface of the conductor: internal fields stay inside, and external fields stay outside.
Electromagnetic interference (EMI) shielding is generally done to reduce the interference of unwanted external signals between electronic devices and components. EMI shielding is a process wherein certain additional components/materials are used to reduce radiated electromagnetic interference by reflection and/or absorption thereby enabling protection of electronics gadgets or cables. This, in turn, provides longer shelf life to electronic products.
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Several factors serve to limit the shielding capability of real RF shields. One is that, due to the electrical resistance of the conductor, the excited field does not completely cancel the incident field. Also, most conductors exhibit a ferromagnetic response to low-frequency magnetic fields, so that such fields are not fully attenuated by the conductor. Any holes in the shield force current to flow around them, so that fields passing through the holes do not excite opposing electromagnetic fields. These effects reduce the field-reflecting capability of the shield.
While PCB level shielding is predominantly employed for most of the electronic devices and components, it is believed that the adoption level for conductive coatings and paints will gradually rise in the next three to four years due to the growing miniaturization of electronic devices. Filters are expected to find utilization in varied applications such as machinery and motor drives used in electrical appliances such as air conditioning systems and pumps and renewable energy solutions such as photovoltaic's and wind power.
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