Capacitors for use in automotive antenna systems

Updated: Apr 21, 2020


Antenna systems are used for a broad range of applications in modern vehicles. They are essential components in various vehicular systems including entertainment systems, driver information systems, navigation systems and vehicle tracking systems. As the demand for vehicles with more features continues to grow, so has the complexity in designing vehicular antenna systems. 

Capacitors are essential components in all types of antenna systems. In vehicular antenna systems, these components are mainly used for frequency tuning, filtering and matching. The performance of these components is determined by a broad array of factors. Modern vehicular antenna systems are highly advanced and demand capacitors that are specially optimized to deliver superior performance and reliability.

In this article, we will explore some of the main considerations in designing vehicular antenna systems. We will also explore the critical role that capacitors play in today’s automotive antenna systems. The article will also consider some of the key considerations in selecting capacitors for use in these antenna systems.

Vehicular antenna systems: placement considerations

A typical modern vehicle has more than 25 antennas, and the number is expected to grow as more features are added. Mounting such a high number of antennas within a small space can be extremely challenging due to mutual interference. In the case of vehicular antennas, the designing problem is even more complicated because only a limited number of positions are ideal for optimal performance. 

Designing a layout that accommodates all the antennas while ensuring minimal interference and blockage is an enormous challenge for designers. To ensure that there is minimal obstruction and mutual interference, various factors must be considered when mounting an antenna system. 

Some of the key factors to consider when selecting a position for a vehicular antenna include level above the ground, distance from the engine, distance from the receiver and directions from which the antenna can receive. 

The performance of an antenna system can be severely affected if it is obstructed. It is important to ensure that the device is positioned in such a way that it is subjected to minimum blockage. For small antennas such as those that operate at 1Ghz and above, it is easier to ensure that the space surrounding it is clear.

A typical engine generates spurious noise. This interference can significantly lower the performance of an antenna system. It is important to ensure that the location of an antenna is free from this interfering noise. 

The performance of an antenna is greatly determined by the distance between it and the ground. A position that is high above the ground helps to improve how an antenna transmits and receives signals.

Capacitors for vehicular antenna systems

Some electronic components used in vehicles are subjected to extreme conditions that may accelerate their failure. To ensure a long service life and good performance, capacitors for use in automotive applications are required to meet strict reliability and performance requirements.

The overall performance and reliability of an antenna system is greatly determined by the choice of capacitors used. Using capacitors that are specially optimized for vehicular antenna systems helps to boost the overall performance of these antennas. Additionally, it is important to consider various factors when selecting capacitors for vehicular antenna systems.

Modern vehicular antenna systems require capacitors that are specially designed to meet the desired performance and reliability.  Some of the key electrical characteristics that most of these antennas demand include high Q and very low equivalent series resistance (ESR).

To produce components that meet these performance requirements, manufacturers have been exploring different materials and manufacturing technologies. Low loss dielectric materials such as silicon oxynitride and silicon dioxide and low highly conductive electrode metals are commonly used in the manufacturing of high frequency automotive grade capacitors. Single layer ceramics and high Q multilayer ceramics are also common.

One of the key factors that determine the overall loss of an electrode is the purity of the material used. Using highly pure materials helps to ensure low and repeatable loss. The inductance of a capacitance is a key factor to consider when selecting a component for use in an antenna system. To achieve uniform inductance, most manufacturers are employing manufacturing technologies that allow tight dimensional control.

Some vehicular antennas systems require components with ultra-tight capacitance tolerances and extremely low capacitance values. For high frequency signal systems, it is crucial to use components with very tight capacitance tolerances. Capacitor manufacturers use different manufacturing technologies to achieve such tight capacitance tolerances.

The physical size of a capacitor is a key factor to consider when selecting components for use in a high frequency vehicular antenna system. For satellite antenna systems and others that operate at above 1 GHz, the size of a capacitor is a critical factor. The size impacts both the inductive and resistive characteristics of a component. 

The growing demand for capacitors with better performance characteristics has forced capacitor manufacturers to explore various capacitor manufacturing technologies. Thin film technology is one of the technologies that many manufacturers are using to manufacture components that meet the demands of today’s automotive antenna systems. This manufacturing technology yields capacitors with very low ESR, ultra-tight capacitance tolerances and high frequency and temperature stability.


Capacitors play a critical role in automotive antenna systems. Today’s vehicular antenna systems are highly advanced and demand components that have tight capacitance tolerances, high purity electrodes, high Q, and low ESR. A significant boost in the performance of vehicular antenna systems can be achieved by using capacitors with optimal performance characteristics. Thin film technology is commonly used in the manufacturing of capacitors for use in automotive antenna systems. 

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