describes an unwanted loss, or leak
, of something which escapes from its proper location. In everyday usage, leakage
is the gradual escape of matter through a leak-hole. In different fields, the term may have specialized meanings.
In chemistry, leakage is a process in which material is lost, intentionally or accidentally, gradually through the holes or defects of their containers. The material lost is usually fluid, usually liquid or powder and sometimes gas, from an imperfectly sealed container. Often, leakage can be disastrous if the leaked material is harmful or corrosive.
A zinc-carbon battery is an example of an easy-leaking system. The electrolytes inside the cell sometimes leak out of the cell shell, and cause damage to an electronic appliance.
In economics, leakage is the non-consumption uses of income, including saving, taxes, and imports. In the Keynesian injection-leakage or circular flow
model, leakages are combined with injections to identify equilibrium aggregate output. The model is best viewed as a circular flow between national income, output, consumption, and factor payments. Savings, taxes, and imports are "leaked" out of the main flow, reducing the money available in the rest of the economy.
The simple model of credit creation assumes all loans borrowed from banks in a fractional-reserve banking system are re-deposited to the system. This allows simple calculation of amount of credit created. Therefore, in credit creation, cash leakage refers to the sums of money borrowed from banks but not re-deposited. Cash leakage, in this case, lowers the ability of credit creation.
In electronics, leakage refers to a gradual loss of energy from a charged capacitor
. It is primarily caused by electronic devices attached to the capacitors, such as transistors or diodes, which conduct a small amount of current even when they are turned off. Even though this off current is an order of magnitude less than the current through the device when it is on, the current still slowly discharges the capacitor. Another contributor to leakage from a capacitor is from the undesired imperfection of some dielectric materials used in capacitors, also known as dielectric leakage
. It is a result of the dielectric
material not being a perfect insulator
and having some non-zero conductivity, allowing a leakage current
to flow, slowly discharging the capacitor.
Leakage may also mean an unwanted transfer of energy from one circuit to another. For example, magnetic lines of flux will not be entirely confined within the core of a power transformer; another circuit may couple to the transformer and receive some leaked energy at the frequency of the electric mains, which will cause audible hum in an audio application.
Leakage current is also any current that flows when the ideal current is zero. Such is the case in electronic assemblies when they are in standby, disabled, or "sleep" mode. These devices can draw one or two microamperes while in their quiescent state compared to hundreds or thousands of milliamperes while in full operation. These leakage currents are becoming a significant factor to portable device manufacturers because of their undesirable effect on battery run time for the consumer.
Leakage in a high-voltage system can be fatal to a human in contact with the leak, as when a person accidentally grounds a high-voltage power line.
In semiconductor devices, leakage is a quantum phenomenon where mobile charge carriers (electrons or holes) tunnel through an insulating region. Leakage increases exponentially as the thickness of the insulating region decreases. Tunneling leakage can also occur across semiconductor junctions between heavily doped P-type and N-type semiconductors. Other than tunneling via the gate insulator or junctions, carriers can also leak between source and drain terminals of a Metal Oxide Semiconductor (MOS) transistor. This is called Subthreshold leakage
. The primary source of leakage occurs inside transistors, but electrons can also leak between interconnects. Leakage increases power consumption and if sufficiently large can cause complete circuit failure.
Leakage is currently one of the main factors limiting increased computer processor performance. Efforts to minimize leakage include the use of strained silicon, high-k dielectrics, and/or stronger dopant levels in the semiconductor. Leakage reduction to continue Moore's law will not only require new material solutions but also proper system design. A good overview of leakage and leakage reduction methods are explained in Leakage in Nanometer CMOS Technologies
Certain types of semiconductor manufacturing defects exhibit themselves as increased leakage. Thus measuring leakage, or Iddq testing, is a quick, inexpensive method finding defective chips.
Retail leakage occurs when members of a community spend money outside that community or when money spent inside that community is transferred outside the community. For example, crossing a border to buy goods forgoes the same purchase that could have been made inside the community. Many chain stores
have high leakages rates due to the transferring of sales revenue
to a corporate headquarters.
In addition, in retail trade, leakage, or shrinkage can also mean the loss of stock without payment, typically due to theft by employees or shoplifters.
In sound recording
, sonic leakage (also called spillage
) occurs, when several microphones are used. Then audio intended for one track is picked up inadvertently by another track's microphone
in a multitrack recording
Multitrack recording is at its optimum when there is sufficient isolation between individual tracks to allow freedom in remixing each track to a desired sound level. Reasonable isolation can be achieved (even in a live recording) by careful microphone placement, or by the separation of sound sources. Sound leakage can limit or even ruin the remixing and overdubbing potentials of a multitrack recording, when one sound interferes with another sound on a track.
Leakage may also have the following meanings in other fields: