Better electromagnetic compatibility measurements for electronic devices

Electronic devices generate low-power radio frequency and microwave fields during use. These electromagnetic fields can interact adversely with other nearby electronics, damaging or impairing their function. To minimise this electromagnetic ‘emissions’ and ‘immunity’ testing of devices are required before market release. However, the simplified characterisation and modelling approaches currently used are insufficient for more advanced, modern devices

Challenge

The number of electronic devices prevalent in society has grown
rapidly over the last 40 years and by 2025 it is projected the
global market for consumer electronics and appliances alone will
reach around 745 billion Euros. Regardless of type, from smart
phones and smart meters to wideband radio and radar systems,
almost all electronic devices emit low-power radio frequency
(RF) and microwave (MW) fields. These ‘emissions’ can interact
adversely with other nearby devices, damaging or impairing
their function. Therefore, electromagnetic compatibility (EMC)
testing and ‘immunity’ measurements need to be performed by a
manufacturer before releasing a product onto the market. EMC is
the interaction of electrical equipment with the electromagnetic
environment and ‘immunity’ measurements determine a devices
ability to withstand RF&MW interference. Instruments performing
EMC tests rely on making accurate ‘Scattering parameter’
(S-parameter) measurements which describe the behaviour
of electrical networks when undergoing various steady state
stimuli by electrical signals. For EMC testing equipment this value
is obtained through comparison with calibration standards.
However, the simplified characterisation and modelling approach
currently used to obtain S-parameter values for these standards
is inadequate for advanced, modern devices. This could result in
products entering the marketplace with degraded performance,
damaging consumer confidence.

Solution

The EMPIR project Development of RF and microwave metrology
capability created new research, expertise and measurement
capabilities in Europe in the field of RF&MW. The National
Metrology Institute of Switzerland, METAS developed an
improved Vector Network Analysis tool (VNA Tools II) to support
the modelling of calibration standards for S-parameters
measurements. In order to test the reliability of the uncertainties
obtained with the new VNA Tool an inter-comparison exercise
was performed by all project partners on a set of stable calibration
artefacts. Results from this fed into a second S-parameter intercomparison
exercise using one-port, two-port and three-port
standards (composed of one, two and three pairs of terminals
respectively). The improved S-parameter measurements obtained
allowed the Slovenian designated institute SIQ to extend the
frequency measurement range for this parameter from 3 GHz
up to 26.5 GHz, which they now offer as part of their calibration
services.

Impact

Founded in 1945 Iskraemeco D.D. is a producer of smart electricity
meters with 100 million meters installed worldwide. The company
is accredited for performing EMC tests on the products and,
using the extended S-parameter frequency range, SIQ calibrated
Iskraemeco’s Transverse Electro-Magnetic (TEM) cell used in-house
for immunity and emission testing. Iskraemeco believe that the
work SIQ performed not only reduces the testing time for the
meters that they provide but also ensures faster implementation
of their approval processes, faster elimination of uncertainties, and
faster elimination of potential equipment defects. Through SIQ’s
work Iskraemeco’s customers can be confident that the products
the company supply will be able to operate efficiently in a world
where the number of electronic devices continues to proliferate.

Building capability in the field of radio frequency and microwave measurements

The EMPIR project Development of RF and microwave metrology capability increased expertise for emerging EURAMET countries in the area of radio frequency (RF) and microwave frequency (MW) measurements. Capabilities in making S-parameter measurements, important in electromagnetic compatibility (EMC) testing, were improved along with the reliability and precision of RF power measurements under low and high-power conditions. Advanced calibration methods were investigated and new test procedures for EMC established. New Vector Network Analysis software was used to develop a worldfirst verification method to detect insidious issues before conducting emission and immunity tests, resulting in a significant increase in the quality of EMC measurements. Four freely available best practice guides were produced, and new calibration services established. The more precise and reliable methods developed will improve the performance of new electronic products, supporting the prevention of incorrect testing of devices, thereby making a positive financial impact on the European economy.

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