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Tests required to determine the resistance of electronic items to external interference can be difficult for low-power devices and effective verification methods are needed for high-quality and accurate test results.
Radio frequency and microwave technology pervades modern life, from smart phones, wireless networking and television to wideband radio and radar systems. All the components involved in these systems must undergo electromagnetic compatibility testing to ensure they operate smoothly.
Electromagnetic compatibility is the interaction of electrical equipment with its electromagnetic environment and ‘immunity’ measurements determine a devices ability to withstand Radio Frequency Interference. Radio frequency interference can be caused by radio ‘emissions’ from other nearby electronics, causing distortions, or harmonics, to be generated in equipment, potentially degrading performance. Immunity testing is problematical for units which generate low power however, and some emerging European National Metrology Institutes (NMIs) lack the ability to perform these measurements.
EMPIR project Development of RF and microwave metrology capability (15RPT01, RFMicrowave) sought to address the gaps between European countries in terms of metrological capabilities in radio and microwave frequency measurements. One project output was the development of a new ‘just-before-test’ verification method to efficiently detect insidious issues before conducting emission and immunity tests resulting in a significant increase in the quality of electromagnetic compatibility measurements.
The new method uses an improved Vector Network Analysis tool developed by the Swiss NMI METAS, where transmitted and reflected signals by a device under test are measured. This has been combined with a ‘Fast Fourier Transform (FFT)-based time-domain methodology’, where an algorithm reduces complex ‘waveforms’ (produced by radio frequency interference) into constituent signals. This new method significantly increases the quality of electromagnetic compatibility measurements and is a ‘world first’.
A new service based on this is now being offered by TUBITAK UME, the NMI of Turkey, and has already drawn much interest, especially around its applicability to CS101 testing which is an essential immunity test for aerospace and military equipment to check that components are ‘hardened’ to external radio interference.
This EMPIR project is co-funded by the European Union's Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme and the EMPIR Participating States.
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