Ground plane in Printed circuit boards
Printed circuit boards
A ground plane on a printed circuit board (PCB) is a large area or layer of copper foil connected to the circuit's ground point, usually one terminal of the power supply. It serves as the return path for current from many different components.
A ground plane is often made as large as possible, covering most of the area of the PCB which is not occupied by circuit traces. In multilayer PCBs, it is often a separate layer covering the entire board. This serves to make circuit layout easier, allowing the designer to ground any component without having to run additional traces; component leads needing grounding are routed directly through a hole in the board to the ground plane on another layer. The large area of copper also conducts the large return currents from many components without significant voltage drops, ensuring that the ground connection of all the components are at the same reference potential.
In digital and radio frequency PCBs, the major reason for using large ground planes is to reduce electrical noise and interference through ground loops and to prevent crosstalk between adjacent circuit traces. When digital circuits switch state, large current pulses flow from the active devices (transistors or integrated circuits) through the ground circuit. If the power supply and ground traces have significant impedance, the voltage drop across them may create noise voltage pulses that disturb other parts of the circuit (ground bounce). The large conducting area of the ground plane has much lower impedance than a circuit trace, so the current pulses cause less disturbance.