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Electromagnetic Noise: Problems and Perspectives

Noise Problems Deepened by Advancement of Electronic Devices

The environments that we live in today are filled by a variety of electronic devices including phones, personal computers and so on. While our lives are becoming more convenient thanks to the technological advancements, "noise" generated by those electronic devices becomes more problematic.

  • Harsher electromagnetic interference
  • Diversity in types of frequencies used
  • Increase in noise sensitivity due to need for low-voltage and fast operation
  • Higher mounting density due to need for high functionality and miniaturization

Noise Problems

What Is Noise?

In electronic devices or components, noise is electromagnetic waves which negatively affect their stable operations.

Here are some examples of common noise issues found in our daily life: an audio speaker makes a noise when a nearby microwave appliance is operating; or a clock radio loses time due to the influence of electromagnetic waves from communication devices. The same reason can be applied to why we should refrain from using phones inside a plane or near those using a heart pacemaker because electromagnetic waves from smartphones can have a negative impact on the operation of those precision machines.

To make matters worse, the problem with electromagnetic interference is accelerating and getting harsher as various things around us including cars and home appliances have come to be equipped with communication modules. Special attention should be made to vehicles and cars as they move towards more automation. Strict measures against noise are vital because any malfunction may result in fatal accidents.

Various electromagnetic waves exist

EMC / EMI / EMS Standards

To achieve social safety and technological evolution, the International Electrotechnical Commission standardized noise countermeasure requirements for electronic devices and components, which are called EMC standards. The word “EMC” stands for Electromagnetic Compatibility.

EMC includes two requirements: Electromagnetic Interference (EMI) and Electromagnetic Susceptibility (EMS).

In other words, electronic devices and components must meet the requirements both to never generate noise that may affect other devices’ operation and to never be affected by noise from other devices.

EMC / EMI / EMS Standards

Increasing Importance of Electromagnetic Noise Susceptibility (EMS)

Due to recognized problems associated with EMS, a list of noise immunity standards was developed along with testing methods and conditions were established for semiconductor components and automotive electronic devices, respectively. To maintain stable operation under an environment full of various electromagnetic noise, high noise immunity is necessary even on the system level.

However, it is often the case that problems occur at immunity testing when there were none before at other characteristic testing. This is due to the difficulty in predicting at what stage of development process noise-related problems happen. Therefore, considering EMS countermeasures is one of the main factors that increase development time.

Semiconductor Tests

Test Name International Standard
General Conditions and Definitions IEC 62132-1
TEM Cell Method IEC 62132-2
BCI Method IEC 62132-3
DPI Method IEC 62132-4
WBFC Method IEC 62132-5

To solve the problems mentioned above, we developed power management ICs with high noise immunity against electromagnetic noise using our unique circuit technology.