In physics and electrical engineering, a cutoff frequency, corner frequency, or break frequency is a boundary in a system's frequency response at which energy flowing through the system begins to be reduced (attenuated or reflected) rather than passing through.
Typically in electronic systems such as filters and communication channels, cutoff frequency applies to an edge in a lowpass, highpass, bandpass, or bandstop characteristic – a frequency characterizing a boundary between a passband and a stopband. It is sometimes taken to be the point in the filter response where a transition band and passband meet, for example as defined by a 3 dB corner, a frequency for which the output of the circuit is 3 dB of the nominal passband value. Alternatively, a stopband corner frequency may be specified as a point where a transition band and a stopband meet: a frequency for which the attenuation is larger than the required stopband attenuation, which for example may be 30 dB or 100 dB.
In the case of a waveguide or an antenna, the cutoff frequencies correspond to the lower and upper cutoff wavelengths.
Cutoff frequency can also refer to the plasma frequency.
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Electronics
In electronics, cutoff frequency or corner frequency is the frequency either above or below which the power output of a circuit, such as a line, amplifier, or electronic filter has fallen to a given proportion of the power in the passband. Most frequently this proportion is one half the passband power, also referred to as the 3dB point since a fall of 3dB corresponds approximately to half power. As a voltage ratio this is a fall to of the passband voltage.^{[1]}
However, other ratios are sometimes more convenient. For instance, in the case of the Chebyshev filter it is usual to define the cutoff frequency as the point after the last peak in the frequency response at which the level has fallen to the design value of the passband ripple. The amount of ripple in this class of filter can be set by the designer to any desired value, hence the ratio used could be any value.^{[2]}
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