Electromagnetic interference (EMI), also called radio-frequency interference (RFI) when in the radio frequency spectrum, is a disturbance generated by an external source that affects an electrical circuit by electromagnetic induction, electrostatic coupling, or conduction.
The disturbance may degrade the performance of the circuit or even stop it from functioning. In the case of a data path, these effects can range from an increase in error rate to a total loss of the data.
Both man-made and natural sources generate changing electrical currents and voltages that can cause EMI: ignition systems, cellular network of mobile phones, lightning, solar flares, and auroras (Northern/Southern Lights). EMI frequently affects AM radios.
It can also affect mobile phones, FM radios, and televisions, as well as observations for radio astronomy and atmospheric science. EMI can be used intentionally for radio jamming, as in electronic warfare.