Consider a magnetic field (B-field) probe such as this one:

field probe


I understand that as as the magnetic flux through the loop formed by the coax shield changes, the charge carriers in the loop will be shoved around the loop by Faraday's law of induction. Since the loop is small relative to the wavelength of interest, we can pretend that the current in it is constant. The high impedance formed by the gap at the top means this induced current will be accompanied by a voltage difference at the gap, and that voltage difference will travel down the transmission line formed by half of the hoop and the feedline to \$Z_L\$, where it's measured. In this way, the probe measures the B-field.

But, what about the E-fields? The point of this probe is to be maximally sensitive to B-fields and minimally sensitive to E-fields. Why is it not sensitive to E-fields?

  • \$\begingroup\$ I understand how the balanced ones work but this one leaves me confused too \$\endgroup\$ – Andy aka May 27 '13 at 16:48
  • \$\begingroup\$ @Andyaka I didn't mean to ask specifically about unbalanced probes. \$\endgroup\$ – Phil Frost May 27 '13 at 17:43
  • \$\begingroup\$ Might be it is the probe neutrality? \$\endgroup\$ – Val May 27 '13 at 18:36

It is sensitive to E-fields, but since it is shielded the only reasonable place for the E-Fields to interact with the conductor is at the very top and the wavelength must be of the same order as the size of the gap for it to couple in any energy.

That is presumably several orders of magnitude difference in wavelengths and your circuit that is analyzing the output will be looking at the larger (presumably) return signal form the dominant magnetic coupling. The E-Field that is of the same wavelength as the H-Field will not "see" that gap.


It is sensitive to E-fields, like any antenna it depends on the frequency.

First, about the antenna performance:
This loop antenna will resonate and be quite sensitive when its circumference approaches \$\lambda\$, and will be somewhat sensitive from \$\lambda/4\$. Below this, the loop antenna becomes increasingly mismatched to the \$50 \Omega\$ coax and its effective gain or sensitivity drops quickly.

When the loop is small, its near fields are predominantly H-fields, because having an impedance close to zero, the voltages present on the antenna are small and the currents are large. (Just the opposite of a short dipole, whose impedance is almost open-circuit, so it has higher voltages and smaller currents, and hence its near fields of a short dipole are predominantly E-fields). The radiated far fields of both are of course in the ratio \$E/H=120\pi\$.

Second, about the "shielding" and balun:
The loop can be made of any solid wire or tube. The diameter affects its impedance slightly, but the general construction does not change its sensitivity to E and H fields.

The gap size has almost no effect on the antenna at all. When it's too small, the capacitance between the opposing faces will load the loop slightly.
(Interesting diversion - the capacitance can actually cause the loop to resonate, making a loop-gap resonator, a very high Q resonator).

However, you must take care not to create a loop-dipole hybrid, by connecting one part of the loop to a long piece of coax.

One solution is to mount the transmitting or receiving circuit inside the metal tube, or keep it small, so cannot influence the fields.

Another way is to use a transformer to feed it with balanced voltages on the two sides.

But the simplest is to do what you've done in the picture, which is:
a) lead the coax out from the loop along a the plane of zero electric field,
b) where the coax meets the loop, connect the coax braid to the loop so no stray fields can exist there,
c) pass the coax inside the loop, where there are no fields, until it reaches the feedpoint, and
d) at this gap, connect the coaxial cable to the two sides of the loop, braid to the loop part that contained the coax, and inner to the other side.

This answer at the Ham Stackexchange has a long writeup on the action of the balun


protected by W5VO May 27 '13 at 17:15

Thank you for your interest in this question. Because it has attracted low-quality or spam answers that had to be removed, posting an answer now requires 10 reputation on this site (the association bonus does not count).

Would you like to answer one of these unanswered questions instead?

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.