Electronic devices — with well-designed signal integrity (SI) — have transformed the way we communicate, work, learn and entertain. Around the globe, we find smart phones, fiber-optic and wireless networks, pocket-size computers, LED screen displays that mimic paper and unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) that deliver packages. Automobiles are filled with electronics that control engine functions, keep wheels from skidding, avoid accidents, direct our travel routes and, now, drive themselves. Aircraft are equipped with radar, fly-by-wire systems and airborne communications. And the innovations keep coming…
Today we live in a hyper-connected world, surrounded by smart products. If industry forecasts are correct, by 2020 — just 2 short years from now — there will be over 28 billion internet-connected devices. Beyond smart phones and autonomous vehicles, smart cities, smart factories, and smart homes are also quickly emerging as promising opportunities that could help improve how we live, work and play.
While these new capabilities will be a delight to us as consumers, they are a nightmare for engineers and product designers. With hundreds of sensors, microprocessors, and wired and wireless communication components, engineers face immense challenges in ensuring reliability and performance. In the complex web of electronic circuitry, something, somewhere that is left unaddressed could lead to failure. One of the big challenges confronting product designers is electromagnetic interference, or EMI.
Full-wave model of communications channel
When preparing for a business or personal trip, most of us want to check our travel routes in advance. There are many route-planning tools on the web today, and they help us to anticipate route difficulties such as heavy traffic, changes in street names, road sizes, accident locations, and many more. Some of these map applications even tell us what time we need to leave our starting location to reach our destination on time. Many of us end up “virtually” driving the route several times before we take the actual drive. Those virtual drives help us get from point A to point B in the shortest time possible, without unpleasant surprises.
Antenna system developers often face a similar challenge: We may have a great antenna design to get an RF signal from point A to point B in isolation, but the scattering environment around the antenna directly impacts the antenna’s ability to get the job done. So how do we anticipate the different routes that the signal might be forced to take to reach its destination? You guessed it—modeling and simulation of the antenna’s interaction with that environment. Continue reading