Selection Guide for Power Inductors in Consideration of Leakage Flux

Magnetic shielding characteristics that lower the leakage flux of power inductors

Small SMD coils used for the power supply of electronic equipment are called power inductors. The mainstream of the products are a wire-wound type in which a copper wire is wound around a ferrite drum core, and an integrally-molded metallic coil type. Compared with multilayer-type, thicker copper wire can be used for it, which can support larger current.
When winding on a magnetic toroidal core (donut-like core) and applying current, the magnetic flux refluxes the inside of the core. A magnetic circuit like this is called a closed magnetic path. In the case of using rod-like or drum-like cores, the magnetic flux goes out of the inside of the core and becomes a leakage flux, which draws a loop returning to the core again. This is called an open magnetic path.
In electronic equipment, if the leakage flux of the inductor is magnetically coupled with another coil, wiring pattern, etc., inductance can change or noise may be caused. Particularly, the leakage flux increases in power inductors in which large current flows, various magnetic shield structures are employed so that leakage of magnetic flux to the outside would not occur as much as possible.
Power inductors are categorized into the types shown below in terms of magnetic shielding;

Table 1 Types of power inductors in terms of magnetic shielding
Non-shielded type A type in which just simply a wire is wound around a drum core and a magnetic shielding is not provided.
Resin-shielded (semi-shielded) type A type in which the wound drum core is encapsulated and molded with resin kneaded with magnetic powder such as ferrite or soft magnetic metal. Although the magnetic shielding effect is limited, it has an advantage of cost reduction.
Full-shielded type A type made structurally closer to the closed magnetic path by covering around the drum core with ferrite shield core. However, magnetic shielding does not always provide complete encapsulation, and flux can leak from the air gap or terminal of the junction between the shield core and drum core. The shield core has various shapes such as a ring type and an L-type, and the strength and distribution of magnetic flux leakage, as well as the cost vary, depending on the structure.
Metallic integral molding type This is not a wire wound type but a type in which an air-core coil is encapsulated in the soft magnetic metal powder kneaded with binder (binding material) and integrally molded. Since there are no air gaps, it can lower the leakage flux than in the usage of full-shielded type. However, magnetic flux leaks from the surface or other locations.

Figure 1 Power inductors of open magnetic path and closed magnetic path

Figure 1  Power inductors of open magnetic path and closed magnetic path

3D graphics of a power inductor leakage flux based on near magnetic field analysis

Which type of power inductor to choose depends on cost, performance, size, etc. and this is a problem that plagues designers. TDK is providing a help for the customers to select the most appropriate power inductors through measuring the leakage flux of power inductor using the near magnetic field measurement system and its visualization.

The basic configuration of the system is shown in Figure 2.
The power inductor mounted on the evaluation board of the DC-DC converter is scanned with the magnetic field probe equipped with the small loop antenna at the half-height of the power inductor, and the magnetic field strength around the power inductor is measured. The data of the obtained time waveform is converted into a spectrum waveform by a spectrum analyzer, and then it is displayed as 3D graphics on a monitor.

Figure2 Configuration of measurement/visualization system of near magnetic field around power inductor

Figure2  Configuration of measurement/visualization system of near magnetic field around power inductor

Metallic integral molding type SPM series with extremely low leakage flux

TDK's power inductor core product, VLS-EX series, CLF-NI series, and SPM series; 3D graphic images visualizing their leakage flux are shown in Figure 3.

Figure 3 TDK's three products' near magnetic field 3D graphic images

Figure 3  TDK

Power inductors of VLS-EX series are resin-shielded (semi-shielded), CLF-NI series are full-shielded, and SPM series are an integrally-molded metal type. Measurement was carried out using almost the same size of inductors.
The horizontal magnetic field has directionality, and the electromotive force of the loop antenna is maximized when the loop antenna surface and magnetic flux cross at the right angle. Therefore, as for the horizontal magnetic field, the probe is rotated in four directions (every 45 °) and the maximum voltage is measured.
The red color indicates that the magnetic field strength is higher and the blue color indicates the lower the magnetic field strength. Lower magnetic field strength and less leakage flux can be obtained by the usage of CLF-NI product than that of VLS-EX product, and SPM product shows even better results than that of CLF-NI product in this aspect.

Points for the countermeasure against leakage flux of power inductors

Even when using a type of magnetic shield with closed magnetic path structure, the leakage cannot be controlled perfectly. The flux leakage control depends on the coil structure. Also, the usage of vertically wound coil involves polarity, and the leakage flux is influenced by intensifying/weakening directions against the signal. In using power inductors of full-shielded type, as well as the non-shielded and semi-shielded types, it is necessary to pay due attention to the wiring of signal lines in the surroundings.

If the influence of leakage flux from power inductor still remains even after a careful design, please take the following countermeasures:

  • ●Alternate the polarity of the coil
  • ●Change the wiring pattern
  • ●Change the product to the one with higher shielding effect
  • ●Change the product to the one smaller in size (the influence of leakage flux can be reduced)

TDK's metallic integral molding type SPM series is a power inductor with low leakage flux, which is suitable for situations where an inductor must be placed in the vicinity of the signal line or when noise from the cabinet is a problem due to adoption of a resin case. Moreover, since it is a one-piece molded structure that does not have a combination of cores as compared with a full-shielded type, it is effective for reducing the beat sound.
The power inductor of which the ferrite core is used is characterized by its wide inductance variation and the ability to support higher inductance value. They are also excellent in mass productivity and are widely used for various equipment.
Each type of power inductor has its own characteristics and advantages. Use them appropriately in accordance with various purposes for your product manufacturing.

Power inductors product list

In TDK's website, you can search for products under various conditions such as cost, performance, size and others.
Please adjust the search parameters from the link below and select the power inductors optimum for your usage.

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