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COMMONMODETRANSIENTIMMUNITY

By:ChrisCoughlin,Product&TestEngineer

CommonModeTransientImmunity(CMTI)isoneofthreekeycharacteristicsassociatedwithisolators
suchasiCouplerdigitalisolatorsaswellasoptocouplers.Theotherkeycharacteristicsareisolation
ratingandworkingvoltage.ThisarticlediscusseshowADImeasuresCMTIforourtransformerbased
iCouplerdigitalisolatorsandshowscomparisonstocompetingdigitalisolatorsbasedoncapacitors.

CMTIisimportantbecausehighslewrate(highfrequency)transientscancorruptdatatransmission
acrosstheisolationbarrier.Understandingandmeasuringthesusceptibilitytothesetransientsis
critical.Thecapacitanceacrossthebarrier(i.e.,betweentheisolatedgroundplanes)providesthepath
forthesefasttransientstocrosstheisolationbarrierandcorrupttheoutputwaveform.

Figure(1)showsatypicalsetupforperformingtheCMTItestofa4channeldigitalisolator.DuringCMTI
testing,apulsedtransientisappliedacrosstheisolatedgroundplanesandtheoutputsofthedeviceare
monitoredfordatadisruptions.Thekeycharacteristicofthistransientisitsslewrate.Inthecaseshown
inFigure1,atransientpulseisappliedtothegroundonthelefthandsideoftheisolationbarrierwhile
theoutputsoftheDUTontherighthandsideofthebarrieraremonitored.TheCMTItestisperformed
forbothpositiveandnegativetransientsandisalsodonewiththeinputsoftheDUTtiedbothHIGHand
LOW.

Figure1:TypicalCMTISetupofa4ChannelDigitalIsolator

TransformerBasedIsolationvs.CapacitorBasedIsolation
TheADuM1402,4channeldigitalisolatorfromADIreliesonatransformerbasedisolationmethodand
usesonchip,aircoretransformerstoprovidetheisolationbarrier.Theprimaryandsecondarycoilsare
separatedbyathickpolyimidelayerthatprovidesthousandsofvoltsofisolation.Throughinductive
couplingandachangingmagneticfieldbetweenthetwocoilsofthetransformer,dataistransmitted
acrosstheisolationbarrier.

Analternativetotransformerbasedisolationemployscapacitorsforbothisolationanddata
transmissionacrosstheisolationbarrier.Thedielectricmaterialbetweenthecapacitorplatesactsasthe
galvanicisolationbarrier.Similartothetransformercase,capacitivecouplingusesachangingelectric
fieldtotransmitinformationacrosstheisolationbarrier.

Inourtesting,wehavedemonstratedthattransformerbasedisolationhasinherentadvantagesover
capacitorbasedisolationwithrespecttoCMTI.Asthefollowingtabledemonstrates,transformer
isolationislesssensitivetoCMTI.

Test

Transient Output Transformer Capacitive


Polarity State PassLevel PassLevel

Transformer Capacitive
FailLevel
FailLevel

CMH

Positive

High

100kV/s

9kV/s

>100kV/s 10kV/s

CML

Positive

Low

100kV/s

100kV/s

>100kV/s >100kV/s

CMH

Negative High

100kV/s

18kV/s

>100kV/s 20kV/s

CML

Negative Low

100kV/s

100kV/s

>100kV/s >100kV/s

(Alltestingperformed@VBATT=VDD2=4.50V,+25C)
TheCMHtestparameteristhemaximumcommonmodevoltageslewratethatcanbesustainedwhile
stillmaintainingVOUT>0.8*VDD2.CMListhemaximumcommonmodevoltageslewratethatcanbe
sustainedwhilestillmaintainingVOUT<0.8V.

Figure2showsapositivegoingcommonmodetransientof10kV/sanditsadverseeffectonthe
capacitivebaseddigitalisolatorwhentheoutputstateisHigh(CMH).Whereas,Figure3showsthe
ADuM1402isimmunetopositivecommonmodetransientsashighas100kV/s.
PositiveTransients


Figure2:CapacitivebasedisolatorCMH~10kV/sFigure3:ADuM1402,CMH~100kV/s,VOA,VOB

Asisthecaseforpositivegoingtransients,Figure4indicatesthatacapacitivebaseddigitalisolatoris
alsosusceptibletonegativegoingcommonmodetransientswhentheoutputstateisHigh(CMH).
However,Figure5showstheADuM1402isimmunetonegativecommonmodetransientsashighas100
kV/s.iCouplerdatasheetsoftenspecifyaguaranteedCMTIlevelmuchlowerthan100kV/s,typically
guaranteedtobeatleast25kV/s;however,thisistoensurethatratingoverallprocessandoperating
conditions.
Negative Transients

Figure4:CapacitivebasedisolatorCMH~20kV/sFigure5:ADuM1402,CMH~100kV/s,VOA,VOB

Conclusion

Basedonthemeasurementsabove,itcanbeseenthatcapacitorbaseddigitalisolatorsmaybemore
susceptibletocommonmodetransientswhentheiroutputstateisHigh(CMH).However,inthecase
whentheoutputstateisLow(CML),capacitivebaseddigitalisolatorscanprovideCMTIcomparableto
thatofinductivebaseddigitalisolators.Theadvantageofinductivecouplingisthatitprovideshigh
commonmodeimpedancetothenoiseandlowdifferentialimpedancetothesignal.However,unlike
thetransformerbasedisolator,inthecapacitorbasedisolatorthereisnodifferentialsignalandthe
noiseandthesignalsharethesametransmissionpath.Therefore,thisrequiresthatthesignal
frequenciesbewellabovetheexpectedfrequencyofthenoisesothatthebarriercapacitancepresents
lowimpedancetothesignalandhighimpedancetothenoise.