What is Common Mode Attenuation in EMI/EMC Filters?

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Editorial Team - everything PE

Aug 7, 2023

Common mode attenuation is the ability of an EMI/EMC filter to suppress and reduce common mode noise from the input or output signals. It is used to prevent the noise from propagating through the system and causing interference with other electronic devices or negatively affecting the performance of the filtered equipment. The filtering technique used for common mode noise is based on the principle of symmetry.

In an ideal EMI/EMC filter, the impedance between the two signal lines is equal and symmetrical, while the impedance between each signal line and the ground is high. This design helps to block the common mode noise while allowing the desired signals (differential mode signals) to pass through with minimal attenuation.

Benefits of common mode attenuation

  • Electromagnetic Compatibility: Common mode attenuation ensures electronic devices coexist harmoniously by reducing interference and preventing system malfunctions caused by unwanted noise.
  • Regulatory Compliance: Effective common mode noise reduction through EMI/EMC filters enables adherence to strict EMC standards, ensuring product certifications and market access.
  • Signal Integrity: Attenuating common mode noise with filters helps maintain signal integrity, minimizing data corruption and ensuring reliable data transmission.
  • System Performance & Reliability: EMI/EMC filters' efficient common mode attenuation enhances overall system performance, reduces failures, and extends the lifespan of electronic components.
  • Protection of Sensitive Components: By mitigating common mode noise, filters safeguard delicate electronic parts from potential damage and premature failures.
  • Preventing Electromagnetic Radiation: Strong common mode attenuation in filters helps minimize unwanted electromagnetic radiation and interference.
  • Cost Savings: Addressing common mode noise during the design phase with effective filters is more cost-effective than dealing with post-production EMC issues, saving time and resources.

Common mode emissions with and without EMI filter 

Factors affecting common mode attenuation

  • Filter Design: The design of the EMI/EMC filter significantly impacts its common mode attenuation capabilities. Engineers must consider factors like component layout, filtering topology, and the type of filtering elements (inductors, capacitors, and resistors) used in the design.
  • Frequency Range: The common mode attenuation performance of a filter varies with the frequency of the noise. Different filters have specific frequency ranges where they exhibit optimal performance. Choosing the right filter with the appropriate frequency range is essential for effective noise reduction.
  • Impedance Matching: Proper impedance matching between the filter and the connected equipment is vital for achieving maximum common mode attenuation. Mismatched impedance can lead to increased reflections and degraded performance.
  • Signal Integrity: Maintaining good signal integrity is critical to prevent common mode noise from being induced into the system. Proper grounding and shielding techniques are essential to achieve this.

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