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Radio Frequency Interference (RFI)

Definition - What does Radio Frequency Interference (RFI) mean?

Radio frequency interference is the conduction or radiation of radio frequency energy that causes an electronic or electrical device to produce noise that typically interferes with the function of an adjacent device. It also refers to the disruption of the normal functionality of a satellite due to the interference of radio astronomy. Radio frequency interference can disrupt and disturb the normal functioning of electronic and electrical devices, and thus it is important to limit it when possible.

Techopedia explains Radio Frequency Interference (RFI)

Radio frequency interference is emitted by most electronic and electrical devices like switching power relays, industrial controls, medical instrumentation, electronic printers, personal computers, laptops, game consoles, computing devices, etc. There are two ways by which an electronic or electrical device emits radio frequency interference: radiated radio frequency interference and conducted radio frequency interference. In the case of the former, the interference is directly emitted into the environment from the device itself, whereas in the latter, the interference is released into an AC power line through the power cord of a component or device. In the case of satellite communications, radio frequency interference can happen naturally as well as intentionally. Different forms of space weather, including solar storms, can cause a natural radio frequency interference, whereas man-made interference is considered intentional radio frequency interference.

Proper shielding in the enclosure of a device helps in controlling radiated radio frequency interference. A power line filter can help in controlling conducted radio frequency interference to satisfactory and acceptable levels. In the case of satellite communications, the use of highly directional antennas and strong end filtering can help in solving narrowband radio frequency interference. In the case of broadband interference, modification of the source can help in bringing down the interference.

Safety agencies and many government bodies have established norms concerning radio frequency interference and noise emissions. They also have norms and regulations with regard to radio frequency communications.

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