Grounding In Printed Circuit Board Design
As we advance into the future, we want everything to be faster, cheaper, compact and durable. Everything around us is electrical. Moore’s law predicted that numbers of transistors per square inch of PCB will double every 2 years and it’s been true too date. Well theoretically it sounds good. But implementing new products with the above requirement comes with a cost. In order to reduce the unit cost of the design, due to noise. Various techniques have been developed in the past few decades to reduce noise in the circuits as the number of components increases and the available size decreases. Design techniques include proper grounding, decoupling, routing and signal multiplexing.
Grounding at PCB level can be in implemented as single point ground. As the name suggests a single point ground is where the complete circuit residing on the PCB has a single ground. This technique is developed by using a ground plane. Ground plane is defined as a highly conductive electrical surface which will be used as a system ground. In printed circuit boards, it is referred to as a large conducting surface of copper foil on either side of the PCB. It is connected to the power supply ground terminal and thus it serves as a return path for current from different components on the board .The fact that a large surface area of highly conductive metal, like copper, has a very low impedance which forms the basis of this method.
Ground plane is laid on the PCB, such that it covers the maximum area which is not occupied by circuitry itself. In multilayer PCB’s, it is often a separate layer covering the entire board. This makes the circuit design easy to implement, thus further allowing the designer to ground any component or subpart of a circuit without adding additional traces. The large area of copper which provides a very low impedance path conducts the large currents originating from other components/subparts without significant voltage drops. This ensures that the ground connection of all the components is at the same reference potential.