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EE668: Coupled transmission-lines

Madhav P. Desai

1 Overview
Suppose we have two identical parallel transmission lines of length l which
are in close proximity. Let Vi (x, t), Ii (x, t) (i = 1, 2) represent the voltage
and current variables in the two lines. The two lines can be modeled by the
following per-unit length parameters
1. L0 : the per-unit-length self-inductance of the current loop formed by
each line’s forward and return path (computed by ignoring the presence
of the other line).

2. C0 : the per-unit-length capacitance between the forward and return

conductors of each line.

3. Lm : the per-unit-length mutual inductance between the two lines.

4. Cm : the per-unit-length coupling capacitance between the two lines.
Let V and I be defined as follows
V =
I =

Then, we can derive the following partial differential equations relating V

and I.

V = −Lİ

I = −CV̇

where the matrices L and C are defined as follows
L0 Lm
L =
Lm L0
C0 + Cm −Cm
C =
−Cm C0 + Cm
The two matrices L and C have common eigenvectors
! !
1 1
Xeven = Xodd =
1 −1

The eigenvalue of L (resp. C) corresponding to Xeven is λLeven = L0 + Lm

(resp. C0 ) and that corresponding to Xodd is λLodd = L0 −Lm (resp. C0 +2Cm ).
It follows that L and C commute so that

LC = CL = P

Consider the matrix !

1 1
T =
1 −1
Note that T−1 = (1/2)T. Consider the transformed variables U and J
defined by the relations
U= = T−1 V

and !
J= = T−1 J
If we apply this transformation to the differential equations relating V and
I, we obtain the following decoupled equations

−λLeven J˙even

Ueven =

Jeven = −λCeven U̇even
′ L ˙
Uodd = −λ Jodd
′ C
Jodd = −λodd U̇odd

which leads to the decoupled wave equations
′′ λe 0
U = Ü (1)
0 λo
′′ λe 0
J = J̈ (2)
0 λo
where λe = λLeven λC L C
even and λo = λodd λodd .
From this discussion it follows that:
1. The coupled lines can be analyzed as two independent decoupled single-
line systems with the even-mode variables Jeven and Ueven correspond-
ing to one decoupled system and the odd-mode variables Jodd and Uodd
corresponding to the other.
2. If the medium in which the lines are located is homogenous (µ and ǫ
are scalars), then the velocity of propagation of the two modes must
be equal (so that λo = λe ). It follows that in this case,
Lm Cm
kL = = = kC
L0 C0 + Cm
r r
λL λL
3. Define Zeven = even
and Zodd = odd
. Due to the relation between
even odd
U, J and V and I, we infer that
Zeven +Zodd Zeven −Zodd
V = 2
Zeven −Zodd
Zeven +Zodd I+ (3)
2 2
= ZI (4)
and V− = −Z I− .
4. Similarly, if we defined Yeven = 1/Zeven and Yodd = 1/Zodd , then
Yeven +Yodd Yeven −Yodd
I+ = 2
Yeven −Yodd
Yeven +Yodd V+ (5)
2 2
= YV (6)
and I− = −Y V− .
These relations can be used to find reflection coefficients and compute
the response of the coupled pair of lines for any excitation. Instead of reflec-
tion and transmission coefficients, you will have reflection and transmission

2 An example
Suppose the two lines are driven from the left by voltage sources with source
resistance 50Ω. Suppose that Zeven = 60Ω and Zodd = 40Ω. Suppose that
the line 1 source is a unit step, while the line 2 source is 0V (so line 1 is the
aggressor and line 2 is the victim). Also assume that the lines are open at
the right and have a propagation delay tpd = 10ns. We will calculate the
initial injection matrix, the reflection matrix at the right and the reflection
matrix at the left.

1. The initial injection satisfies the boundary conditions

! !
+ u(t) 50 0
V (0, t) = − I+ (7)
0 0 50
V+ (0, t) = Z I+ (8)

Solving, we obtain !
+ u(t)
V (0, t) = 99
5 (9)

2. At the first reflection on the right, we see that the boundary conditions
imply that I = 0. This is satisfied if V+− = V− .

3. At the next reflection on the left, the boundary condition is obtained

by noting that

Y(V+−+ − V+− ) = −Y0 (V+−+ + V+− ) (10)

where !
1/50 0
Y0 = (11)
0 1/50
is the admittance matrix looking into the sources. Thus

V+−+ = (Y0 + Y)−1(Y − Y0 ) V+− (12)

and so on...

3 An approximation
Suppose that two lines are coupled over a part of the distance that they travel
(as illustrated in Figure 1). Then, if we assume that the perturbation on the
upper (victim) line is small, and further assume that the lower (aggressor) line
is not affected by the victim, the following approximation is sometimes useful.
Let Z0 , Y0 be the impedance and admittance matrices representing the two
lines in the uncoupled region, and Z, Y be the impedance and admittance
matrices for the two lines in the coupled region.
Assume that the aggressor sees a ramp-step at x = 0 with rise-time tR .
This ramp-step moves along the aggressor and produces disturbances in the
victim. In the infinitesimal segment of width dx at x, the disturbance injected
into the victim is
1. Due to capacitive coupling, a current pulse of width tR and height
Cm dx/tR is injected into the victim at x. This current splits equally to
the right and left and introduces a forward going wave with amplitude
(with kC = Z0 Cm )
p((t − (x/c))/tR )dx (13)
and backward going wave with amplitude
− p((t − (x/c))/tR )dx (14)
where p is the unit pulse function (p(u) = 1 when 0 ≤ u ≤ 1 and 0
2. Due to inductive coupling, a voltage pulse of width tR and height
Lm dx/Z0tR is injected in series in the victim at x. This creates a
forward going wave with (voltage) amplitude (here kL = Lm /Z0 )
− p((t − (x/c))/tR )dx (15)
and backward going wave with amplitude
p((t − (x/c))/tR )dx (16)
where p is the unit pulse function (p(u) = 1 when 0 ≤ u ≤ 1 and 0

The forward inductive and capacitive contributions cancel out if the
medium is homogenous. If we sit at x = 0, then the total backward con-
tribution is given by (note that the disturbance generated from x will appear
at the origin after a delay of x/c):

kC + kL l
VB (0, t) = p((t − (2x/c))/tR )dx (17)
2tR x=0
kC + kL
= (xhigh (t) − xlow (t)) (18)
where xlow (t) (respectively xhigh ) is the smallest (respectively largest) value
of x for which the quantity being integrated is non-zero. We see that

xlow (t) = min {max {0, c(t − tR )/2} , l} (19)

xhigh (t) = min {ct/2, l} (20)

Thus, if the length of the line is such that tpd is much greater than tR , then
VB (0, t) starts from 0 and climbs to a maximum value of kC +k 4
, stays at a
constant value for until t = 2l/c and then goes back to 0.
Note that VB (0, t) may be seen as a reflection into the victim line from
the coupled region into the uncoupled region (this reflection is interpreted as
backward crosstalk!). The reflection into the two lines from the start of the
coupled region is given by

(I + (Y0 + Y)−1 (Y − Y0 )) Vincident

and the transmitted wave into the final uncoupled section towards the load
(I − ((Y0 + Y)−1 (Y − Y0 ))2 ) Vincident
If the size of the entries in Y − Y0 is small, we will see that the crosstalk
seen in the forward direction is much smaller than that seen in the backward
direction (but it is not zero!). Thus, the approximation shown above is good
only when the coupling between the two lines is weak, and only in the coupled
region (so that boundary conditions do not come into play).

Backward Forward
Contrib. Contrib.
Backward Forward
Xtalk Xtalk

0 0

0 x x+dx l

Figure 1: Coupled line approximation