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The Failure of Coaxial TEM Cells ASTM Standards Methods

In H.F. Range
Mihai Badic Mihai-Jo Marinescu
HV/EMC Laboratory, Research Institute for Electrical HV/EMC Laboratory, Research Institute for Electrical
Engineering - ICPE Engineering - ICPE
Bucharest, ROMANIA Bucharest, ROMANIA

Abstract The two measurements are similar in the case of the two
The paper deals with one of the most used and reliable standards mentioned above (being identical for surface
ways to characterize the shielding capability of materi- conducting materials), as follows:
als, based on the Schelkunoff isomorphism. This method - for ASTM ES7-83: U1 is the voltage measured at the out-
uses the physical-mathematical equivalence of equa- put of the cell without material sample and U2 is the volt-
tions describing SEdB in the case of infinite plane shield, age measured at the output of the cell with material sam-
respectively in the case of material sample introduced in ple.
the measuring coaxial TEM cell (IAdB), and it resulted
into the ASTM standards ES7-83 and D4935-89. The - for ASTM D4935-89: Tref is the transmission coeffi-
paper shows that these standards (and Schelkunoff iso- cient when the reference sample is mounted inside the
morphism) are not valid for electrically thick samples; TEM cell Tload is the transmission coefficient measured
there is no identity between shielding effectiveness and with the load sample.
insertion attenuation/insertion loss in H.F. range. These measurements allow determining IAdB≅SEdB and the
comparison of the data with the theoretical curves plotted
Keywords according to:
Shielding effectiveness, TEM cells, measuring standards.
(Z 0 +Z m )2
INTRODUCTION SE dB= 20 log10 + 20 log10 eád +
4Z0 Z m
The goal of SEdB measurements - using coaxial TEM cells
or other methods - is the evaluation of shielding capability Z - 
of materials (homogeneous, composite, multilayer) in the + 20 log10 1- m Z 0  e- 2 ãd = R dB + AdB + B dB (2)
ideal case of infinite plane shield placed in free space il-  Z m+ Z 0 
luminated by a plane electromagnetic wave. The theory of where RdB=reflection loss, AdB=absorption loss, BdB=re-
Schelkunoff and the isomorphism between this case and reflection correction, Z0=free space wave impedance,
the one of the coaxial line was accurately demonstrated Zm=wave impedance of material, γ=α+jβ=propagation
[1], [2] for the configuration mentioned in ASTM ES7-83. constant and d=shield thickness [5].
In certain situations, as shown in [3], [4], ASTM D4935-89
may be reduced to the one mentioned before. Results that In order to obtain accurate results (errors less
if isomorphism withstands to a theoretical analysis taking then 2%) some technical conditions must be fulfilled:
into account all phenomena, the experimental method is • 50 Ω impedance matching for all devices (source,
validated, at least theoretically, for both standards. TEM cell, receiver, cables, a/o.);
The paper demonstrates theoretical and experimental that • measurement preformed below the limit frequency of
this is not possible: Schelkunoff isomorphism is affected TEM cell (usually 1-1.5GHz);
by a basic error that limits its applicability just in the area
of maximum interest: electrically thick samples, meaning • good contact between the sample and the cell.
the H.F. range. The last condition, the most difficult to fulfil, was avoided
by applying ASTM D4935-89 standard (flanged version
ANALYTIC BACKGROUND developed by NBS). This holder uses flanges, rather then
As it is known, by performing two successive measure- continuous conductors, thus avoiding the influence of
ments, one is able to determine: contact resistance. Moreover, this standard allows the
U 1 T ref measurement of surface insulated materials and multi-
IAdB = ≡ ≅ SE dB (1) layer shields.
U 2 T load If the plot of equation (2) in Fig.1 is considered, it may be
easily observed that there are two distinct areas: area A -
the flat part of the curve corresponding to electrically thin where E1, E2 represent electric field in the absence of the
samples (d<<δ), respectively area B - the fast rising part infinite plane shield in free space respectively in its pres-
of the curve corresponding to electrically thick samples ence, and H1 and H2 the same for magnetic field. Subscript
(d>>δ). c refers to application of Z and γ equations to the trans-
mission line with dielectric, respectively with washer
SEdB ≡ IAdB [dB] shaped sample on a length equal to the shield thickness d.

E1 E2
Z0 , γ

d << δ d >> δ U1 U2

Figure 1. Area A-verification of test equipment; Z 0c , γ d Zmc
Area B-verification of Schelkunoff isomorphism. γc b)

Measurements in Area A check the technical conditions Figure 2. Measuring method of ASTM ES7-83 based on
already mentioned. For most of the materials the curves Schelkunoff isomorphism: a) infinite plane shield in free
are flat in this area, being described by the approximate space; b) TEM cell with and without sample.
equation (characteristic to electrically thin samples,
Z 0σd
SE dB ≅ 20 log 10 ; SE dB = F (σ , d ) (3) It is easy to demonstrate that γ ≡ γc, and the shape factor
2 (1/2π)ln(b/a) is reduced in expression (2) so that SEdB ≡
Conductivity σ may be easily measured using classical IAdB.
methods, (3) becoming calibration method for any TEM In [5], [6] is shown that for electrically thin samples (d<<δ
measuring coaxial cell [10]. On another hand, measure- ⇔ low frequency) with µr≅1 equation (2) becomes:
ments in Area B give information on behavior of mate-
rials exposed to high frequency. This is the most im-
 
IAdB = 20 log  e d δ ⋅ 0 ⋅ (1 − e −2γ d ) ≅
portant area for experiments (usually the curve has a rap- Z
idly increasing shape). The main problem is that there
are no published results showing a good match be-  4Zm 
tween theory and measurements, in this area, using the  d  Z 
≅ 20 log 1 +  ⋅ 0 ⋅ 2γ d  ≅
 δ  4 Z m
methods promoted by the already mentioned standards.

This indicates a basic error regarding the validity of
Z γd Zσd Z
Schelkunoff isomorphism, the subject of this paper. ≅ 20 log 0 = 20 log 0 = 20 log 0 (5)
For ASTM ES7-83 equations (1) and (2) are valid, as well 2Zm 2 2 Rsq
as configuration in Fig.2. B) THIN SAMPLE - NO PROPAGATION INSIDE CELL (l << λ0)
For this configuration, the following relations express
 Z σd   Z0 
 = 20 log1 + 
IAdB ≅ 20 log1 + 0 (6)
U1 ⇔ E1 ⇔ H1  2  2 R 
 sq 
U2 ⇔ E2 ⇔ H2 where l represents the total length of the measuring line
Z0 ⇔ Z0c (including cell), σ is material conductivity and Rsq is
Zm ⇔ Zmc (4) square resistance [7], meaning the resistance on a material
square having thickness d.
γ ⇔ γc
It may be observed that if we write the above equations as
SEdB ≡ IAdB function of characteristic impedance of line/cell, results
Z0 ≅ 377Ω; Z0c = 50Ω for the two cases:
Z 0c According to this equivalent network (Fig.4), results:
IAdB ≅ 20 log (7)
2Z L  A
IAdB = 20 log 1 +  (9)
respectively  2 B
 Z  Z C (Z C + Z K ) + Z C (R + ZC )
IAdB ≅ 20 log 1 + 0c  (8) A = Z 0c + 2 R (10)
 2Z L  (ZC + Z K + R)2 − Z K2
where ZL is purely resistive impedance of the washer/disk R2 ZK
B = ZL + 2 (11)
shaped sample introduced in the measuring cell. R 2 + 2RZ K
For ASTM D 4935-89 is valid expression (1), but work-
ing equations are calculated with expressions characteris- Z 0c = 50Ω
tic to lumped constants circuits. The structure of measur- The above equations result from [3] for the case when
ing cell is shown in Fig.3, and the equivalent circuit is pre- contact resistance and capacitance in the equivalent net-
sented in Fig.4. work are equal towards transversal and longitudinal sym-
metry axis. If ZC are considered negligible, then A=Z0c. If
Annular shaped piece
also contact resistance are null (R=0), then equation (9)
becomes (6) because the shape factor in both expressions
(Z0c and ZL) is reduced in (8). So, it may be said, based on
the demonstrations accompanying the two ASTM, that in
the ideal (technically) case they offer the same solution. It
must be highlighted that this is valid for the case of elec-
a) trically thin samples (d<<δ) and cells without propagation
(l<<λ0). This observation is obvious because the working
equations are deduced based on a lumped constants circuit
(Fig.4). ASTM D 4935-89 is not modeling the behavior
of electrically thick samples and there is no theoreti-
cal basis for region B of SEdB =F(ω ω ) in Fig.1.
On another hand, ASTM ES7-83 is modeling apparently
accurate the behavior of infinite plane shield in free space,
both in areas A and B, even if it involves difficulties in
d b) eliminating the influence of contact resistance. It may be
Figure 3.Measuring method in case of ASTM D4935-89: assumed that for certain materials with good surface con-
a) reference sample measurement;
ductivity (which may be checked by means of comple-
mentary methods) an identical characteristic or close to
b) load sample measurement.
the theoretical one (Fig.1) can be obtained. It will be
demonstrated further on that this is impossible both
ZC ZC in theory and practice.

The maximum frequency condition of the TEM
Z0c ZL Z 0c cell, mentioned before, is deduced from the condition of
the lack of overmoding [8], [9]:
- for H11 (TE11) mode:

R R λH 11 = (b + a ) ; λ ≥ λH 11 (12)
ZC ZK ZC - for E01 (TM01) mode:
λE 01 = (b − a ) ; λ ≥ λE 01 (13)
where b is the inner diameter of outer conductor and a is
Figure 4. Equivalent network for calculation of working the diameter of inner conductor. Conditions (12) and (13)
equations of a flanged coaxial transmission line holder
correspond, for usual dimensions of TEM cells, to the
(ASTM D4935-89).
values λH11≅20cm respectively λE01≅5cm. The most re-
strictive condition (12) leads to the maximum working Actually, the maximum frequency of using the
frequency (1.5GHz) mentioned before. TEM cell for the sample's material is considerably higher
The basic error, giving the incongruity of the two meth- because there is another condition for the appearance of
ods, consists of neglecting the modification of wavelength higher modes (longitudinal fields), this being the propa-
inside the conductor/semiconductor sample because of gation condition inside the material sample having thick-
conductivity σ, as it is shown in Fig.5. As consequence, ness d:
overmoding appears at much lower frequency then 1GHz. 1
f < (15)
π d 2σ µ 0
For this particular case considered, the two conditions are
λ<<λ0 fulfilled simultaneously at frequencies below 5.6MHz (for
This phenomenon of waves with longitudinal fields that can
exist as higher modes in coaxial lines is presented in Fig.6.
The limit frequency depends on all macroscopic parame-
ters ε , µ , σ , but the most important is conductivity σ.

λ0/2 λ0/2

Figure 5. The phenomenon of wavelength modification

when a far field electromagnetic radiation illuminates a
semiconductor shield with absorption.

Thus, supposing a material having a moderate conductivity

(5000Ω -1m-1, close to certain synthetic Graphite types),
Table 1.Wavelength shift inside semiconductor sample
Frequency 1kHz 1MHz 100MHz 1GHz
Free space

λfree space = 300km 300m 3m 0.3m


λsample 1.4m 40mm 4mm 1.4mm

vf sample 1413m/s 54.7km/s 447km/s 1413
Material sample

frequency ≅ 50kHz
for TEM

a) b)
Data in Table 1 were calculated with the following equa- Figure 6. Higher modes in coaxial line:
tions (valid for conductors):
electric field magnetic field
ω f ; v0 c λ0 a)TE11 mode;b) TM01 mode.
v f = ≅ 3160 ≅ = (14)
β σ v sample v sample λsample
PRECISION AND ACCURACY After Schottky barrier breakdown (using a relatively high
Precision is linked to measuring errors leading to more or voltage), the flat part of characteristic has significantly
less reproducible measurements, while accuracy refers to increased (apparent σ increases). At higher frequency (107
systematic deviations due to basic or technical reasons. ÷ 108 Hz) IAdB is practically identical to the one obtained
In the case of the two standards brought into discussion, by calculation - equation (3) - using for σ the value deter-
both need to be analyzed. mined by the method of 4 points probe.
• ASTM ES7-83 150
IAdB [dB] :
PRECISION: very good for conductors and semicon-  teoretical
ductors when contact resistance is less important. °°° experimental

ACCURACY: very good for area A (d<<δ). 110

• ASTM D4935-89 90 72,7 dB; σ =4580

PRECISION: very good for any kind of sample (ho-
mogeneous, composite, multilayer), no matter of
contact resistance (such a reference measurement al- 50 d=5mm
lows one to cancel the effect of contact resistance f=2,2 MHz
between sample and metallic waveguide). f[KHz]
100 1000 10000 100000 1000000
ACCURACY: very good only for area A (d<<δ).
Figure 7. Insertion attenuation for Synthetic Graphite.
Experiments were performed for measuring IAdB=F(ω), on
different samples, having conductivity within the range 50
IAdB [dB] :
10Ω -1m-1 ÷ 106Ω -1m-1 and thickness of µm ÷ 5mm, with  teoretical
or without magnetic properties. None of these tests was 40
ο , × experimental
able to provide a shape similar to the one in Fig.1 - the
theoretical behavior of the infinite plane shield placed in
free space. Many other authors obtained this negative re- 30 34,3dB; σ=54
sult [10], [11], [12]. On another hand, it is always obtained
a correct value of IAdB≡SEdB in the region A (flat), demon- 20
strating that errors are not due to contact resistance. f=180 MHz
The accuracy of these results is checked by measuring
conductivity σ by means of complementary methods and 10

applying equation (3) to calculate IAdB. Also, from the way

of checking 50Ω impedance match for all devices (source, 0 f[kHz]
TEM cell, receiver, cables, a/o.) [12] is deduced that er- 100 1000 10000 100000 1000000
rors don't proceed either from an impedance mis-
Figure 8. IAdB for Si monocrystal p(B); same sample be-
match. Because tests were performed at frequency up to fore (x) and after (o) Schottky metal-semiconductor inter-
1GHz results that all technical conditions were fulfilled. face breakdown (d=5.1mm).
The only remaining cause of errors - analytically demon-
strated - is the appearance of higher modes inside the ma- 15
IAdB [dB] :
terial sample, because of severely reduced wavelength in  teoretical
conductive materials. ο , × experimental
The most significant tests are those performed on Syn-
thetic Graphite (Fig.7) and Si p(B) Monocrystal (Fig.8) 10 11,9dB; σ=4,2
respectively Polycrystal (Fig.9). Thus, Synthetic Graphite
has a moderate conductivity (103 ÷ 104 Ω -1m-1), leading to
appearance of region B starting from approximately
10MHz. Even so, experimental results do not match theo-
retical predictions, although in region A errors are of only
1% (Fig.7).
Experiments performed on Si p(B) and Si Polycrystal in-
tended to highlight how useful is the method in region A of
shielding characteristic (relatively low frequency). It may 0
10 100 1000 10000 100000 1000000
be observed a Schottky type phenomenon on the IAdB char-
acteristic, due to metal (Ag deposit) - semiconductor (Si). Figure 9. Same test for Si polycrystal (d=4.95mm).
CONCLUSIONS present. Measurements in this area should be avoided and
In order to analyze the practical cases that occur in testing labs should propose new methods for determining
shielding technique we must take into account a reference SEdB in d>>δ region.
model. This is the infinite plane shield in free space (ho-
mogeneous, composite or multilayer materials). For a REFERENCES
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