Transmission Lines and Reflected Signals

Application Notes

Transmission lines are a critical circuit element in electrical engineering. They are conduits for the propagation of electromagnetic waves, which carry information and power. Traveling waves interact with inhomogeneities that produce reflections. These reflected waves are an integral aspect of transmission line behavior, which is both useful and a challenge to manage.

In contrast to lumped elements such as resistors, capacitors, and inductors, transmission lines are distributed elements. The electrical characteristics of a distributed element depend upon its physical geometry. Further, the electromagnetic fields of distributed elements, which dictate circuit behavior, span a range of space. Unlike in a purely lumped-element circuit, geometry matters for transmission lines and is a primary factor in how the circuit behaves. You cannot describe a transmission by a simple currentvoltage relationship like lumped elements. Transmission lines are more fundamentally described by their electromagnetic field distributions, which are static (DC), time-harmonic (AC), or transient waves +or pulses.

The FieldFox Fundamentals series is written for Keysight’s FieldFox N9914A 6.5 GHz handheld analyzer. However, you can substitute the N9914A with any of the following models: N9913/15/16/17A, N9918A with adaptors, N9950/51/52A with adaptors, or N991xB.


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