Capacitive coupling
In electronics
Electronics is the branch of science, engineering and technology that deals with electrical circuits involving active electrical components such as vacuum tubes, transistors, diodes and integrated circuits, and associated passive interconnection technologies...

, capacitive coupling
Coupling (electronics)
In electronics and telecommunication, coupling is the desirable or undesirable transfer of energy from one medium, such as a metallic wire or an optical fiber, to another medium, including fortuitous transfer....

is the transfer of energy within an electrical network
Electrical network
An electrical network is an interconnection of electrical elements such as resistors, inductors, capacitors, transmission lines, voltage sources, current sources and switches. An electrical circuit is a special type of network, one that has a closed loop giving a return path for the current...

 by means of the capacitance
In electromagnetism and electronics, capacitance is the ability of a capacitor to store energy in an electric field. Capacitance is also a measure of the amount of electric potential energy stored for a given electric potential. A common form of energy storage device is a parallel-plate capacitor...

 between circuit nodes. This coupling can have an intentional or accidental effect. Capacitive coupling is typically achieved by placing a capacitor
A capacitor is a passive two-terminal electrical component used to store energy in an electric field. The forms of practical capacitors vary widely, but all contain at least two electrical conductors separated by a dielectric ; for example, one common construction consists of metal foils separated...

 in series with the signal to be coupled.

Use in analog circuits

In analog circuits, a coupling capacitor is used to connect two circuits such that only the AC
Alternating current
In alternating current the movement of electric charge periodically reverses direction. In direct current , the flow of electric charge is only in one direction....

 signal from the first circuit can pass through to the next while DC
Direct current
Direct current is the unidirectional flow of electric charge. Direct current is produced by such sources as batteries, thermocouples, solar cells, and commutator-type electric machines of the dynamo type. Direct current may flow in a conductor such as a wire, but can also flow through...

 is blocked. This technique helps to isolate the DC bias
DC bias
When describing a periodic function in the frequency domain, the DC bias, DC component, DC offset, or DC coefficient is the mean value of the waveform...

 settings of the two coupled circuits. Capacitive coupling is also known as AC coupling and the capacitor used for the purpose is known as a coupling or DC blocking capacitor. The term decoupling capacitor is also used, emphasizing the DC isolation. Capacitive coupling has the disadvantage of degrading the low frequency
Low frequency
Low frequency or low freq or LF refers to radio frequencies in the range of 30 kHz–300 kHz. In Europe, and parts of Northern Africa and of Asia, part of the LF spectrum is used for AM broadcasting as the longwave band. In the western hemisphere, its main use is for aircraft beacon,...

 performance of a system containing capacitively coupled units. Each coupling capacitor along with the input electrical impedance
Electrical impedance
Electrical impedance, or simply impedance, is the measure of the opposition that an electrical circuit presents to the passage of a current when a voltage is applied. In quantitative terms, it is the complex ratio of the voltage to the current in an alternating current circuit...

 of the next stage forms a high-pass filter
High-pass filter
A high-pass filter is a device that passes high frequencies and attenuates frequencies lower than its cutoff frequency. A high-pass filter is usually modeled as a linear time-invariant system...

 and each successive filter results in a cumulative filter with a -3dB
The decibel is a logarithmic unit that indicates the ratio of a physical quantity relative to a specified or implied reference level. A ratio in decibels is ten times the logarithm to base 10 of the ratio of two power quantities...

 frequency that may be higher than each individual filter. So for adequate low frequency response the capacitors used must have high capacitance ratings. They should be high enough that the reactance of each is at most a tenth of the input impedance of each stage, at the lowest frequency of interest.[??Need reference] This disadvantage of capacitively coupling DC biased, transistor amplifier circuits is largely minimized in directly coupled
Direct coupling
In electronics, direct coupling is a way of interconnecting two circuits such that, in addition to transferring the AC signal , the first stage also provides DC bias to the next...


Use in digital circuits

AC coupling is also widely used in digital circuits to transmit digital signal with a zero DC component, known as DC-balanced signals. DC-balanced waveforms are useful in communications systems, since they can be used over AC-coupled electrical connections to avoid voltage imbalance problems and charge accumulation between connected systems or components.

For this reason, most modern line code
Line code
In telecommunication, a line code is a code chosen for use within a communications system for baseband transmission purposes...

s are designed to produce DC-balanced waveforms. The most common classes of DC-balanced line codes are constant-weight code
Constant-weight code
In coding theory, a constant-weight code, also called an m of n code, is an error detection and correction code where all codewords share the same Hamming weight. The theory is closely connected to that of designs...

s and paired-disparity codes.

Gimmick Loop

A "gimmick loop" is a very simple kind of capacitive coupling: a piece of wire that is placed in proximity to another one, providing a capacitive coupling between two nodes of a few picofarads in value. Sometimes the wires are twisted together for physical stability.

Parasitic capacitive coupling

Capacitive coupling is often unintended, such as the capacitance between two wires or PCB
Printed circuit board
A printed circuit board, or PCB, is used to mechanically support and electrically connect electronic components using conductive pathways, tracks or signal traces etched from copper sheets laminated onto a non-conductive substrate. It is also referred to as printed wiring board or etched wiring...

 traces that are next to each other. Often one signal can capacitively couple with another and cause what appears to be noise. To reduce coupling, wires or traces are often separated as much as possible, or ground lines or ground plane
Ground plane
In electrical engineering, a ground plane is an electrically conductive surface.-Radio antenna theory :In telecommunication, a ground plane structure or relationship exists between the antenna and another object, where the only structure of the object is a structure which permits the antenna to...

s are run in between signals that might affect each other. Breadboard
A breadboard is a construction base for prototyping of electronics. The term is commonly used to refer to solderless breadboard ....

s are particularly prone to these issues due to the long pieces of metal that line every row creating a several-picofarad capacitor between lines. To prototype high-frequency (10s of MHz) or high-gain
In electronics, gain is a measure of the ability of a circuit to increase the power or amplitude of a signal from the input to the output. It is usually defined as the mean ratio of the signal output of a system to the signal input of the same system. It may also be defined on a logarithmic scale,...

 analog circuits, often the circuits are built over a ground plane so that the signals couple to ground more than to each other. If a high-gain
In electronics, gain is a measure of the ability of a circuit to increase the power or amplitude of a signal from the input to the output. It is usually defined as the mean ratio of the signal output of a system to the signal input of the same system. It may also be defined on a logarithmic scale,...

Generally, an amplifier or simply amp, is a device for increasing the power of a signal.In popular use, the term usually describes an electronic amplifier, in which the input "signal" is usually a voltage or a current. In audio applications, amplifiers drive the loudspeakers used in PA systems to...

's output capacitively couples to its input it often becomes an electronic oscillator
Electronic oscillator
An electronic oscillator is an electronic circuit that produces a repetitive electronic signal, often a sine wave or a square wave. They are widely used in innumerable electronic devices...


One rule of thumb says that drivers should be able to drive 25 pF of capacitance which allows for PCB traces up to 0.30 meters.

External links

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