# Does copper or aluminum sheet block magnetic signal?

• yungman
In summary: I have never tried shielding with chicken wire, so I cannot say for sure.Thanks for the clarification. In summary, shielding of noise generated by appliance and florescent lights can be done with good conductor blocks (aluminum or copper) and thin sheets of either material. The thickness of the sheet does not matter as long as the cells are small compared to the wave length.
yungman
I have a discussion about shielding of noise generated by appliance and florescent lights. I know both Al and Cu are not magnetic material. BUT all noise are time varying meaning it is EM field. Good conductor block E field as loss is very high. How does that work when only the B field can pass through?

Does the B that pass through create back the E field by Maxwell's equation

$$\nabla \times \vec E =-\frac{\partial \vec B}{\partial t}$$

So the E field is regenerate again after passing through the good conductor sheet?

Another question, does the thickness of the copper or aluminum sheet matter on the shielding. If so, why?

Thanks
Alan

Perfect conductor completely blocks an EM wave. Magnetic field doesn't "pass through", don't worry about it. In fact, you don't need a solid sheet. You can use chicken wire, so long as the size of the cells is small compared to wave length. Look at the microwave door window for an example of that. It's called a Faraday cage. Look it up.

Thickness does matter, in principle. At every frequency there is a "skin layer", which is the depth to which the EM wave penetrates. For good conductors the skin layer is very thin, but depends on wavelength. You need less thickness to block high frequency EM than to block the low frequencies.

I did experiment with a coil inside a cage made of aluminum foil. It sense the 60Hz, 120 Hz and even up to 10KHz just as well as if the cage is not there.

So is this because the frequency is so long the skin depth is very high, so you need a thicker cage to block the low frequency EM noise?

Also, if the frequency is so low and the wave length is so long, I can use literally chicken wire for shielding the low frequency EM noise?

Hm, at 10kHz I would expect foil to provide at least some shielding. Strange. But yeah, my first guess would be insufficient thickness. At frequencies that low, it gets a little more complicated. On one hand, any gaps are going to be much smaller than wavelength, but then again, so is the distance from source. At 60Hz, the waves are 5,000km long. I honestly have no experience with shielding at these frequencies.

I can definitely tell you that whether material is magnetic or not will not make a difference. So you need to concentrate on a good conductor. Aluminum or copper should be ideal for any kind of shielding. But thickness and geometry... Sorry. Not sure.

Thanks. I sure learn a lot from you tonight, give me a lot of insight to think about.

When dealing with electromagnetic waves, it is the conductivity of a material that makes it reflective and not its magnetic properties.

The skin depth represents the depth in a conducting material (aluminum, copper) that attenuates the incident wave to 1/e. See http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Skin_effect
$$\delta=\left[ \frac{2\rho}{\omega \mu} \right]^{1/2}$$
It is proportional to 1/f½, so shielding low ac frequencies is difficult. For very low frequencies and dc magnetic fields, layers of soft iron, followed by a layer of high-mu alloy, works well.

Correct, iron is very helpful. Although the skin depth is big at low frequencies, it is possible to shield 60 Hz with a box welded up of annealed 1000 series (high purity high conductivity) aluminum sheets of some 1" thickness. Conductivity of the welds must also be very high to prevent leakage.

## 1. Does the thickness of the copper or aluminum sheet affect its ability to block magnetic signals?

Yes, the thickness of the sheet does affect its ability to block magnetic signals. The thicker the sheet, the better it will be at blocking the magnetic signal. This is because a thicker sheet has more material to absorb and redirect the magnetic field.

## 2. Can copper or aluminum sheet completely block a magnetic signal?

No, copper and aluminum sheets cannot completely block a magnetic signal. They can significantly reduce the strength of the signal, but some amount of magnetic field may still be able to pass through.

## 3. Is copper or aluminum more effective at blocking magnetic signals?

Copper is generally more effective at blocking magnetic signals than aluminum. This is because copper has a higher electrical conductivity, which allows it to better absorb and redirect the magnetic field.

## 4. Are there any other factors that can affect the ability of copper or aluminum sheet to block magnetic signals?

Yes, there are other factors that can affect the effectiveness of copper or aluminum sheet in blocking magnetic signals. These include the type and strength of the magnetic field, the shape and size of the sheet, and the presence of any other materials or objects in the surrounding area.

## 5. Can copper or aluminum sheet be used to shield against all types of magnetic signals?

No, copper and aluminum sheet are only effective at blocking low-frequency magnetic signals. They are not effective against high-frequency magnetic signals, such as those used in radio waves or microwaves. In these cases, other types of shielding materials would be more suitable.

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