Passive Component Models May Have a Significant Impact to Overall Simulation Success

by T.Zednicek, European Passive Components Institute

PSpice simulation of electronic circuit functionality has become a standard HW design approach by most of electronic design engineers today. While simulation models from ICs and active components are normally available and used, passive component models are not considered as an critical component and ideal components from library are often used for simulation. Nevertheless, in some cases, high accurate passive component models might be of critical importance for the circuit model behaviour evaluation.

Computer based electrical simulation & modelling has become a standard electronic HW design tool in most of companies today. The advantages of the PSpice type of simulations are obvious:

Nevertheless, the reality and accuracy of modelling are strongly influenced by a quality, simulation conditions range and fidelity of the all used components. It has become today’s standard that manufacturers of ICs and active components are realising new parts together with its models ready to use in various simulation PSpice softwares and  HW engineers are always checking and using them for new designs. However this practice is not always followed in the case of passive components.

“Real” passive components are not usually implemented for circuit simulation software and ideal passive components (resistors, capacitors, inductors) are routinely used in simulation software. Unfortunately, ideal and real passive components have significant differences in their electrical parameters. These differences are leading to inaccuracies between the actual hardware performance and expected results based upon software simulation programs.

Ideal Capacitor Features

an analogue examples can be expressed about other ideal passive components – Inductors, Resistors …. that are oftenly used in PSpice simulation programs.

However in reality, espetially for the case of electrolytical capacitors the ideal models are very far from the reality. The capacitance drop with frequency, voltage (MLCC) and self-resonance frequency may have a key influence to the voltage & current ripple / occurance of spikes that needs to be considered to guarantee the electrical circuit functionality within its operational range.

cap sim

An Example of ideal versus real capacitance frequency dependence of 220μF electrolytic capacitor at room temperature.

There is currently significant difference between offering & accuracy of PSpice / S parameters models available by passive components manufacturers. It is of key importance to require and insist on high accurate simulation models or at least take this factor into consideration during the simulation.

The real high-accurate models can be quite complicated, as for example tantalum capacitor model suggested by AVX 1]

that simulates basic electrical parameters frequency and temperature behaviour as well as  DCL and V-I characteristics.

[1] Pelcak.J., “Tantalum and Niobium Oxide Capacitors Equivalent Circuit Model Applicability to Simulation Software”, CARTS Europe 2003

© European Passive Components Institute

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