[TowerTalk] Effects of Oxidation on Copper Antenna Wire

Shawn Donley n3ae at comcast.net
Tue Apr 24 15:05:11 EDT 2018

Some recent posts on grounding reminded me of something I've always wondered about.   How is the radiation efficiency of a copper wire HF antenna affected by oxidation of the copper over time?   Empirical evidence is that any effects are small/negligible, otherwise the dipole you put up last year would not work so well this year.  My limited understanding is that the two oxides of copper, Cuo and Cu2O, are semiconductors.  So after a while, the outside of the wire is covered by something approaching an insulator (relative to clean copper conductivity).  The depth of the oxide, as far as I could research, is on the order of 100 nano-meters.  OK...so the RF current is forced under the oxide and follows the skin depth with frequency relationship.  Not much effect on the current or the "RF resistance" of the wire, if I can be forgiven for using that term.  But what about stranded copper wire?  That's where things might get interesting.  Does the skin effect with clean copper wire cause the RF to stay on the outside of the overall collection of strands, all of which have good contact with their adjacent strands?  If so, what happens when all the individual strands are oxidized and not in low resistance contact with their partners?    Anyone know of actual measurements of the effects of oxidation or how such a measurement would be done?   Short of measuring the Q of a tuned circuit built with "clean" and oxidized wire inductors, I'm not sure how you could measure the effect and even less sure of how those measurements would translate to the original question...effects on the radiation efficiency of an antenna.


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