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ELECTROTEHNIC, ELECTRONIC, AUTOMATIC, vol. 61, nr.

1, ianuarie-martie 2013

61

The Phenomena of Capacitive Coupling at the Surface of

PCBs
Abstract
Capacitive coupling occurs between conductors, circuits located at different potentials, and among them there
are ways of closing the currents produced by the potential difference. The purpose of this paper is to emphasize
the capacitive coupling that appears between two conductors located on a PCB. The problem is related to the
appearance of some disruptive voltages on parallel capacitive coupled conductors. This voltage may appear at
the air filters for air purification or electrostatic chargers for electrostatic copy machine. With the Electrostatics
model from Comsol Multiphysics it was studied capacitive coupling at the surface of a PCB in various cases.
Keywords: coupling circuits, crosstalk, electromagnetic compatibility, electromagnetic coupling,
electromagnetic propagation, electromagnetic interference, electromagnetic shielding, PCB

1. Introduction
Capacitive coupling: The time varying
electrical field of an external system
produced time varying charges in the
disturbed system. The flow of the
displacement currents can be modeled in an
equivalent circuit by stray capacitances,
which connect the two systems, and cause
the disturbing voltages
Similar to the cause of inductive coupling,
the capacitive coupling becomes large if:
The two circuits are close together
The voltages difference of the two
circuits is large
The signals in the external circuit are
rapidly varying in the time and
therefore possess large high frequency
content.

2. Capacitive coupling interference

phenomena onthe surface of a PCB
Capacitive coupling occurs among
conductors that are at different potential.
Therefore, the potential difference occurs
among the conductors an electric field is
modeled in equivalent schemes by stray
capacitance.
C1 and C2 are two different potential
conductors located on a wiring of Pertinax,
where:
a =(2, 3, 5, 10, 15)mm;
b = 2mm;
h = 310 -4mm;
U1 = 100V
In figure 1, due to the potential difference
between two conductors there is an electric
potential on the conductor that has free
potential.

Methods of reducing capacitive coupling

The capacitive coupling can [3] be
reduced using shielded cables.
A method to reduce capacitive coupling
is lay tracks as far apart as possible on a
PCB.
Another case is the one, when a ground
plane is use minimize mutual capacitance.

Alina Elena DUMITRU (RADU): PhD Stud., Universitatea

Politehnica din Bucureti, Facultatea de Inginerie
Electric, Splaiul Independenei, nr. 313, Bucureti,

Relations for calculating

Relationships for calculating stray
capacitance that appearing between the two
conductors and metal plate are:
b

C 11 =

0 l
a

+ r
2 2

(1)

25

(2)

C 13 = 0 , 26 0 l

(3)

C1a=C11 + C12 + C13

(4)
(5)

C 21 =

0 a
d1

(6)

= U1

C1
(C 1 + C 2 )

15
10

0
2

10

15

distancea[mm]

C 21 C 22
C 21 + C 22

20

C 2a =

35
30

l h
= 0
a

C 12

conductor 2.
In figure 3, there is presented the electric
potential of the conductor 1, in function of
the distance. We observed that the values
of the electric potential are larger than a
double-layer PCB.

U2[V]

62

(7)

Comsol simulations
With the Electrostatics model from
Comsol Multiphysics, I studied capacitive
coupling at the surface of a PCB. The
distance between C1 and C2 conductors is a
(mm).
In the figure bellow, there is presented
the electric potential and stream lines of the
electric field in the case when the distance
between conductors is 15mm.

distance

The worst case is when the distance

among conductors is of 2 mm. In this case,
the electric potential can reach up to 30 V
Another case is when PCB has double
layer of cooper, the layer from the back of
the PCB is ground.
Figure 4 presents the electric potential
and stream lines of electric field, in case of a
double layer PCB, when the distance
among conductors is 2 mm.

Figure 4. Electric potential lines and stream lines of

electric field in a case of a double layer PCB in
the case that the two conductors are located at
2 mm distance from each other

Figure 2. Electric potential lines and stream lines of

electric field in case of two conductors located
at 15 mm distance from each other

The study was made for the following

distances: 2 mm, 3 mm, 5 mm, 10 mm, and
15 mm.
We measured the electrical potential of
the conductor 1, due to the influence of the

The study was made with the distances:

2 mm, 3 mm, 5 mm, 10 mm, and 15 mm.
We measured the electrical potential of
the conductor 1 due to the influence of the
conductor 2, when the PCB has a double
layer of cooper.
The case of a double layer of cooper is
often used in industry and the value of
electric potential on the free conductor is
much smaller, therefore the capacitive
coupling in this case is lower.

63

3. Conclusions

Figure 5. Electric potential of conductor 1in function of

distance in the case when the pcb has a double
layer of cooper

In figure 5, a PCB double layer is suitable

for applications, where the potential
difference among conductors can affect
device operation.

distance.

The worst case is when the distance

among conductors is 2 mm. In this case, the
electric potential could reach up to 7.5 V
and it could decreases, when the distance is
15 mm to the value of 0.7 V.
Experimental results
In laboratory, we practical measured the
electric potential of the conductor 2, when
the voltage of the conductor 1 is 10 V.
Table 1 presents the values of the U2
voltage that we experimentally measured,
and we also simulated the values of U2
voltage with the Comsol programme.
Table 1.
Distance
a[mm]
2
3
5
10
15

U2
Experimental
[V]
5,98
4,95
4,60
3,39
0,70

U2
Simulated
[V]
4,53
3,82
2,86
2,61
0,58

In Table 1, there is presented the values

of the electric potential U2, made
exprerimentally in laboratory and after we
performed the Comsol simmulation when
the electric potential of the conductor 1 is
10 V.

We stated the existence of electrical

circuits on the surface of PCBs producing
capacitive coupling by the existence of
electric field.
The investigation was done on some
parallel circuits refers to the frequently
situation encountered in PCBs.
By Comsol simulating, the appearance of
a parasitic potentially was followed to
highlight at different distances from
perturbation source circuit.
The results are consistent. The areas of
significant influence can claim to be of the
order of 2, 3a. At a greater distance than 3a,
the influence is less than 5 %.
The reducing the capacitive coupling
phenomenon can be done by increasing
distance, by avoiding the overlapping
circuits or certain connections to the ground.
The problem is related to the appearance
of some disruptive voltages on parallel
capacitive coupled conductors. This voltage
may appear at the air filters for air
purification or electrostatic chargers for
electrostatic copy machine.
4. Acknowledgment
The work has been funded by the
Sectorial Operational Program Human
Resources Development 2007-2013 of the
Romanian Ministry of Labor, Family and
Social Protection through the Financial
Agreement POSDRU/107/1.5/S/76903.
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ELECTROTEHNIC, ELECTRONIC, AUTOMATIC, vol. 61, Nr. 1, ianuarie-martie 2013

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6. Biography
was born in Roiori de Vede
(Romnia), on May, 18, 1986.
She received his M. Sc. In
Electrical
Engineering
at
Politehnica
University
of
Bucharest, from Bucharest,
Romania in 2011. She is currently a Ph.D.
Student in Politehnica University of Bucharest,
from Bucharest, Romania.
Shes special fields of interest included
Electromagnetic compatibility, electromagnetic
perturbations and interference systems.