The reflection coefficient is used in physics and electrical engineering when wave propagation in a medium containing discontinuities is considered. A reflection coefficient describes the amplitude of a reflected wave relative to that of the incident wave. The reflection coefficient is closely related to the transmission coefficient. The reflectance of a system is also sometimes called a "reflection coefficient".
Different specialties have different applications for the term.
In telecommunications, the reflection coefficient is the ratio of the amplitude of the reflected wave to the amplitude of the incident wave. In particular, at a discontinuity in a transmission line, it is the complex ratio of the electric field strength of the reflected wave () to that of the incident wave (). This is typically represented with a (capital gamma) and can be written as:
The reflection coefficient may also be established using other field or circuit quantities.
Notice that a negative reflection coefficient means that the reflected wave receives a 180°, or , phase shift.
The reflection coefficient is displayed graphically using a Smith chart.
Reflection coefficient is used in feeder testing for reliability of medium.
Optics and microwaves
In optics, "reflection coefficient" can refer to either the amplitude reflection coefficient described here, or the reflectance, depending on context. Typically, the reflectance is represented by a capital R, while the amplitude reflection coefficient is represented by a lower-case r.
The reflection coefficient in semipermeable membranes relates to how such a membrane can reflect solute particles from passing through. A value of zero results in all particles passing through. A value of one is such that no particle can pass. It is used in the Starling equation.
- This article incorporates public domain material from the General Services Administration document "Federal Standard 1037C" (in support of MIL-STD-188).
- Bogatin, Eric (2004). Signal Integrity - Simplified. Upper Saddle River, New Jersey: Pearson Education, Inc. ISBN 0-13-066946-6. Figure 8-2 and Eqn. 8-1 Pg. 279
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Smith charts.|
- Flash tutorial for understanding reflection A flash program that shows how a reflected wave is generated, the reflection coefficient and VSWR