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40 DESIGN007 MAGAZINE I DECEMBER 2021 Feature Interview by Andy Shaughnessy I-CONNECT007 For this issue of Design007 Magazine focus- ing on the art and science of PCB design, we sought input from Dan Beeker, senior princi- pal engineer of NXP Semiconductors. Dan has spent years teaching designers about the need to focus on the electromagnetic fields around the traces, not the traces themselves, as the late Ralph Morrison advised. We asked Dan to share his thoughts on the art of designing PCBs, and how art and science figure into his views on field theory. Andy Shaughnessy: We oen hear that PCB design is part art and part science, right brain and le brain. Do you think it's more of one than the other, or does it depend on the design job? Dan Beeker: I think that the legacy has been more focused on the art side, to make things symmetrical and "pretty." Now, the science needs to dominate, and those grouped traces Field of Dreams: The Art and Science of Designing with Field Theory need to be separated as much as possible in order to improve signal integrity and reduce crosstalk. e same idea needs to apply to the urge to flood large areas of power conductors to fill in the entire layer. e correct way is to use the vias that connect the power "islands" to the ICs and capacitors, leading to ugly, asym- metrical shapes. Shaughnessy: Can someone with a great mind for science learn the artistic side of design? at's one thing that non-degreed designers jokingly say about EEs—that they focus too much on science and not enough on the beauty of the design. What do you think? Beeker: I am sure that is possible. It is about where you find beauty. I find beauty in visualiz- ing the continuous transmission lines, perfectly controlling the flow of energy, the perspective of symmetry of the two conductors bounding the dielectric. (Yes, I know I am weird.) ere is always some beauty resulting from the differ- ent colored shapes shown in the layout tools. Dan Beeker

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