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I.P. MacDiannid
1.0 INTRODUCTION The principle objective of a screened enclosure is to prevent, to some degree, the electromagnetic fields generated within the enclosure from propogating beyond the walls and/or to provide a volume of space within the enclosure which has an electromagnetic environment which is a known value below the external environment in which the enclosure is immersed. In satisfying this requirement, ideally the walls of the enclosure must be electrically, infinitely conducting and continuous. This is of course impractical and imperfections arise in the form of; finite conductivity in the walls, panel joints, electrical apertures for air flow or viewing and penetrating conductors. All these imperfections must be dealt with accordingly in order to achieve the desired attenuation between the inside and the outside of the enclosure. It is reasonable to suggest that a screened cable is only a topological extension to the shielded enclosures at either end of the cable. This is illustrated in Fig. 1. Also, the shielded equipmeet enclosure provides a termination for filters. such that the interference currents which are shunted off the cable on to the enclosure via the shunt capacitance of the filter, do not couple with the internal circuitry. This is illustrated in Fig. 2 . Both these issues should be approached by taking a topological view of the behaviour and requirements of the shielded enclosure. 2.0 A QUALITATIVE DESCRIPTION OF THE FUNDAMENTAL MXXANISMS 2.1 A Conducting Spherical Shell in an Incident Electromagnetic Field In order to describe the behaviour of a shielded enclosure protecting a circuit or system from an incident, interfering electromagnetic field, imagine a spherical shell, imnersed in a STATIC electric field as shown in Fig 3 . The charges on the surface congregate in accordance with the field. If the field was suddenly reversed, then the charges would re-orientate to align vith the new field and current would have to flow to achieve this re-orientation. If the spherical shell vas immersed in an alternating electromagnetic field then the electric field component would induce alternating current in the same way as that described above. It should be pointed out that the magnetic field component would also induce a current which for a small shell (compared to the. . wavelength), vould be entirely compfementary to that created by the electric field component.

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I.P. MacDiarmid is with British Aerospace PLC, Military Aircraft Division, Warton Aerodrome, PRESTON PR4 1AX


2 . 2 The Diffusion of Electromagnetic Energy

In the case of the shell possessing infinite conductivity, such induced currents would reside entirely on the surface. In practice, finite conductivity results in the currents flowing within the shell. The effect, known as : h e "skin effect" is illustrated in Fig 4 . The electric and magnetic fields and volume current density associated with the fields decrease through the thickness of a finite conductor from the "source" side. This altenuation, in the case of a flat, semi-infinite plane of infinite extent is an exponential relationship, given by:-



:= J

d .e




:= H




6 :=


- 6

This is the basis of what is often termed the 'absorption loss. which contributes to the attenuation of diffusion through the conducting shell of an enclosure. This leakage mechanism is made up of three parts:-

Shielding Effectiveness SE (dB) = Absorption Loss A

(a) +

Incident Reflection L o s s


+ Internal Reflection Loss



The incident reflection loss from the impedance mismatch between the external enviroment of the shield (i.e. free space 377 Ohm) and the intrinsic impedance of the shield (usually very low <<l Ohm). This produces

a reflection of energy at the boundary in exactly the same way as an impedance mismatch in a transmission line. Similarly, the internal reflection loss results from the impedance mismatch between the intrinsic impedance within the medium and the impedance of the space beyond the shadow face. Any calculation of shielding effectiveness for shielded enclosures is complicated by a number of mechanisms. Firstly, shielded enclosures are not flat sheets of infinite extent. Secondly, any field leakage into the interior results in multiple reflections and this plus inevitable space loss in the propagation of leakage fields within the enclosure, produces a non-uniform field distribution within the enclosure. This non-uniformity becomes more severe as the frequency under consideration approaches the internal resonance of the enclosure. By definition, a well shielded enclosure does not lose much energy to the outside world and therefore the 'Q' of the cavity resonance will be high unless absorbing materials or structures are employed. The relationship between the shielding performance of the enclosure of finite size and radius of curvatures is very close to that of an infinite sheet, up to a frequency for which the enclosure is approximately one quarter of a wavelength long in its largest dimension. At this frquency the external surface current density and internal fields begin to exhibit resonant behaviour, this can be allowed for by an enhancement factor using a "fat dipole" analysis or a much more precise analysis can be performed using a numerical analysis technique.


2.3 The Leakage of Electromagnetic Fields Via Apertures

An aperture in the wall of a shielded enclosure is an area of zero conductivity. The surface currents flowing on the outside surface of the enclosure can not flow across this insulating area and therefore must flow around them. This obstruction of current flow causes electromagnetic fields to arise in the aperture as shown in Fig 5. These fields propagate into the interior of shielded enclosure, thus reducing the shielding performance of the enclosure. In addition to the fields created in the aperture due to the divergence of surface current around the aperture, which can be thought of as a magnetic dipole source to the interior. There is also leakage or normal electric field components which must terminate on a conductor within the enclosure. This mechanism can be thought of as an electric dipole source to the interior. The qp-alitative explanation of the .process .of leakage for fields generated within the enclosure is identical, thus causing emission of electromagnetic fields from a system or circuit contained within the enclosure. The explanations provided above are satisfactory for an incident field whose wavelength is greater than four times the largest dimension of the aperture. A t higher frequencies the aperture behaves more and more as a "window" which passes the EH radiation without modification or distortion. The field inside the enclosure, in the case of field ingress from the outside, is then

purely a function of the resonant behaviour of the cavity formed by the shielded enclosure.
It can be seen that, enclosures with apertures which are significantly smaller than the dimensions of the enclosure will display strong resonant behaviour at and above the internal resonant frequency of the enclosure. This arises because the only loss of energy will be the small leakage arising from the aperture and resistive losses of the wall and joints of the enclosure. If the enclosure has an aperture which has dimensions which are just less than the enclosure, then fields will penetrate easily but the resonant behaviour will be heavily damped by the significant loss of energy from the large aperture. This is illustrated in Fig. 6 from Ref. 1.

2.4 The Effects of Poor Joints in a Shield Electrically imperfect joints in a shield can consist of discontinuous electrical contact along the length of the joint (e.g. a bolted painted surface) or continuous electrical contact along the length of the joint which is not of such high conductivity as the surrounding material. Electrical joints can also by a combination of the two situations (e.g. a bolted joint with a gasket). It can be seen that penetration via bolted joints can produce strong resonant behaviour because of the lack of re-radiation.


2.5 The Effect of Penetrating Conductors Conductors penetrating through the shielded wall of an enclosure can have a dramatic effect on the shielding performance of that enclosure. Even electrically very short penetrating conductors can reduce the shielding performance by many tens of decibels. The mechanism is quite clear, the conductor on the source side of the shield has current induced on it. This current is conducted through the shielded wall with negligible attenuation and re-radiates on the shadow side of the wall, thus considerably reducing the shielding provided by the wall.

This issue is important because penetrating conductors are the most potent source of shielding &gradation in the design of a shielded enclosure. In addition they are often (but not always) connected to the sensitive inputs or broadband outputs of equipment.
3.0 DESIGNING TO HEET THE REQUIREMENT 3.1 Finitely Conducting Enclosures

number of authors have published (Refs 2,3,4,5) useful papers on the subject of shielding performance of conducting shells and these papers contain useful formulae for the analysis of the problem.

In. order to allow .for wave impedances other than 377 Ohms it is more convenient to use the formulas for infinite plane sheets (Ref.2). For small enclosures relative to the wavelength a good degree of equivalence is obtained.


. .


- ~ (dB)

_ - I -



S c ~ u o n3 2 t h e Shielhng Ellcrurenn af a plane r h a i d hniuly conducring maienal


p e n by.


:= A(-)

+ R

(dB) + R


:= ( 8 . 6 8 6 . (0.t))



' t o

is the thickness of the material

This is the reflection loss for the electric field component of the incident electromagnetic field.


:- 14.6

- 10.



This is the reflection loss of the magnetic field component of electromagnetic field.

Thio reflection loss represents that vhich will occur for the plane wave btween the source side of the shield and the shadov side.

The results of applying the equation in 2 . 2 to a thin sheet of iron of conductivity relative to Copper of 0.17 and relative permeability of 1. are shown in Fig.7. A l s o shown is the result of applying the formula of Reference 5 for a spherical shell on the same material and of radius equal to the measurement distance of the plane sheet case. It can be seen that the agreement between the two cases for the shielding effectiveness for the magnetic component of an incident plane wave is very good. Usually the equations are arranged to give the shielding performance of a particular shell or sheet of known conductivity and thickness. In the process of design, we know what shielding performance is required and the conductivity and thickness needed to provide that shielding needs to be derived. The equations provided are not easily re-organised into a suitable form. It is therefore preferable to make an intelligent guess at the conductivity and thickness and proceed by iteration. The intelligent guess can be obtained by taking the highest shielding requirement at the lowest frequency and substituing in the following:-

This equation will provide a reasonable first estimate of the thickness and conductivity required to meet the shielding requirements. The equations for shielding given above must then be used to iterate to optimum values of thickness and conductivity . At this stage of the design both the shielding requirements and the corresponding sheet resistance will be known. Both of these will be required in the subsequent design analysis.

3.2 Aperture Penetration

Apertures in the surface of a shielded enclosure must be treated in a manner appropriate to their size relative to the incident wavelength and initially ignoring the difficulties of internal reflections within the enclosure. Consider initially a small circular aperture in a conducting sheet of infinite.Gxtent, as shorn in Fig.8. The field source to'the "shadow" side of the shield is a combined dipole pair consisting of an electric and magnetic dipole of moments respectively given by:-


:= 2 . f . a . E e sc

where pa is the electric dipole moment of the aperture

ae is the electric polarizability of the aperture and Esc is the electric field component on the source side w i t h the apel-ture missing.


:= - 2 . 4


where ma is the magnetic dipole moment of the aperture

am is the magnetic polarizability of the aperture

and Hsc is the magnetic field component on the source side w i q the aperture missinq.

The fields on the shadow s i d e of the shield are given by:-




2. R





where p is the wave number.

As a result the shielding effectiveness of the aperture is given by:-




[-. [+J]

In the case of a circular apercure, the electric and nagnetic polarizability tensors are given respectively by:-




a mxx






where d is the diameter of the circular aperture

Reference 1 gives the polarizabilities for many of the common apertures found in the design of shielded enclosures, including hatches and doors, with and without conducting gaskets.
3.3 Designing for the Use of Gaskets

, .

The analysis of the installed performance of gaskets can be achieved quite satisfactorily as described above, using the polarizabilities of Reference - _ 1. In the same way as the analysis of the diffusion of electromagentic. energy described in Section 3.1 requires an-educated guess in order to iterate to the value, the derivation of the electrical characteristics of a gasket (and its interface with the contacting metal) requires an educated guess. This can be obtained from taking a simplistic view and equating the absorption loss obtained from the gasket material at the frequency at which the slot becomes half a wavelength long to the required attenuation at that frequency. In addition to the electrical requirements of the gasket, it is important to ensure the mechanical installation is carefully thought out. Usually this entails identifying the need for a gasket in the early stages of the design of the enclosure.

The gasket compliance and stiffness o f the mating surfaces must be balanced such that there is no buckling, thereby preventing gaps appearing in between the surfaces and destroying the installed performance of the gasket. The prevention of corrosion can be a major difficulty in the long term use of gaskets. The gaskets often contain highly conducting fillers in granular form (e.g. Silver) and these are widely separated from the material of the mating surfaces in the electrochemcial series. The first approach to the prevention of corrosion is to minimise the conductivity required in the gasket. This can be achieved using the analysis already outlined and as a result the conducting filler in the gasket can often be a less 'reactive' material. Furthermore, the reduced conductivity greatly reduces the rate of corrosion. The second line of approach to the corrosion problem is the careful design of the paint scheme. Useful conducting finishes are appearing on the market but it is still worthwhile minimising the exposure to the atmosphere of electrically contacting surfaces.
3 . 4 The Reduction of the Effects of Penetrating Conductors

The various forms of penetrating conduction breach of shielding age shown in Fig.9. It can be seen that the-analysis of such features can be achieved by a very similar process to that developed for the apertures. In this case the pentrating conductor is either a short current element '11' (electric dipole) or a small current loop 'U' (magnetic dipole). These sources re-radiate the electromagnetic fields in the way described in Section 3.2. The input current 'I' to such sources on the shadow side can be calculated using the analysis of Smith Reference 6 . The fields on the source side of the shied are the inducing fields which provide the current 'I' and this is driven into the 'load impedence' of the loop or monopole on the shadow side. This impedance can be difficult to establish when inside an enclosure. However, it is usually acceptable to ignore the influence of the shielded enclosure, although for small enclosures (401) and enclosures operating at their resonance, this assumption may be in considerable error. The design of the conductor entry for the minimisation of the re-radiated fields must consider the range of possible source and load impedances and the entry design must possess a suitable shunt iapedance in order to minimise the current 'I'. This current is usually arranged to flow on the outer surface of a shielded enclosure. Because of the length of entering conductors, the frequencies at which the largest currents arise are much lower than would occur from normal interaction of the electromagnetic wave with the enclosure in isolation. As a result special consideration must be taken in the design of the shielded enclosure in the region of the conductor entry, in terms of thickness and conductivity.


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In order to analyse the problem, the surface currents arising from the conductor connection, spreading radially are used as the source terms for the diffusion equation (2.1). This is a very simplistic approach but gives

satisfactory results for the investigation of design limits of conductivity and thickness at the conductor entry.

The analysis and design of shielded equipment enclosures can be carried out using various numerical techniques. This lecture describes approximate analysis approaches which can be used to design the shielded enclosure. In addition, the lecture describes the various leakage mechanisms in qualitative terms in order to supplement the mathematics and provide a non-numerical understanding. The lecture also provides means by which initial 'educated guesses' can be arrived at as a starting point for the analysis or for the purpose of design scoping. REFERENCES 1. "EMP Interaction: Principles, Techniques and Reference Data (a Complete Concatenation of Technology from the EMF' Interaction Notes"), Report No. AFWL-TR-80-402, December 1980, Air Force Weapons Laboratory, Kirtland Air Force-Base, Aberquerque, New Hexico, USA.
2 . D.R.J. White and M. Mardiguion, "Electromagnetic Shielding", A Handbook Series on M C , Vo1.3, I.C.T.


3. J. MIEDZINSKI, "Electromagnetic Screening; Theory and Practice", Technical Report M/T135, 1959, ERA Technology. 4. R.B. SCHULTZ, V.C. PIANTZ 6 D.R. BRUSH, "Shielding Theory and Practice", IEEE Transactions on EMC, Vo1.30, No.3, August 1988. 5. J.C.G. FIELDS, "An Introduction to Electromagnetic Screening Theory". Digest from the IEE Colloquim on Screening and Shielding, November 1984, London, UK.
6. A.A. Smith, 'Coupling of External Electromagnetic Fields to Transmission Lines", John Viley, 1977.

The author wishes to express his gratitude to British Aerospace for their permission to publish this paper.


1 - - - - - -- - 1 --\


Cable Screen

Fig.1. The Topological Extension of the Shielded Enclosures Provided by the Cable Screen.


Filter Shunt Currents and Screen Currents


/ /





. -

t *

Fig.3. A Spherical Shell in a Static Electric Field


Pig.4. A n Illustration of the S k i n Effect

Depth i n t o Material





Elecrromagnetic penetration of mall aperturea.





8 10


. The Results Applying the Infinite Plane Sheet Analysis for Shielding
. . -

od aportun mulwlmt


(a) ?ortion of conducting rurfacc vith aperture; (b) shorted aperture vith equivalent dipoles on ahadow s i d e of surface.