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Electromagnetic simulation

Why is electromagnetic simulation essential?

Electromagnetism is one of the fundamental pillars underpinning our current technological era. Its manifestations underpin much of modern technology, from our smartphones to our MRI machines and transportation systems. Low frequency, encompassing frequencies down to a few megahertz, is particularly relevant to a wide variety of applications, where it plays a central role.

In many innovation projects, simulations are used to test behavior under different conditions in order to meet specified criteria. Here are some project examples:

Safety is paramount when it comes to electromagnetic technology. Every device, whether a simple household appliance or cutting-edge medical equipment, must comply with strict standards to ensure that it is safe for the user. Non-compliance may result in unwanted electromagnetic fields which, in the worst case, may cause harmful interference with other devices or even present direct physical hazards to users. For example, a medical device that doesn’t comply with standards can not only disrupt its operation, but also compromise the patient’s health.
Performance is intrinsically linked to the way a device handles electromagnetic phenomena. Poor design can lead to power loss, interference with other devices and resonances that can seriously affect a device’s ability to operate as intended. For example, in communications, poor insulation or interference protection can lead to data loss or degraded signal quality. A thorough understanding of electromagnetic phenomena helps minimize these problems and optimize performance.
Innovation drives technological progress, and a solid understanding of electromagnetism provides fertile ground for new ideas. The ability to simulate and predict electromagnetic behavior, particularly at low frequencies, has opened the door to advances that would once have been considered impossible. Whether it’s developing new forms of communication, improving energy efficiency or creating new methods of medical diagnosis, mastering electromagnetism is at the heart of innovation.
Finally, another dimension, often less visible but just as crucial, is the financial impact. Upstream electromagnetic simulation not only improves the quality of the final product, but also generates substantial cost savings. Every test cycle, prototype or design iteration costs time and money. By identifying and rectifying potential problems early in the design cycle through simulation, companies can reduce the costs associated with testing, errors and delays. What’s more, by guaranteeing that the product complies with standards from the outset, it avoids the costs and implications of product recalls or potential litigation.
In short, electromagnetism, and in particular low-frequency simulation, is an invaluable tool in the modern world. Its impact on safety, performance, innovation and cost control makes it an invaluable ally for any technology professional.

How does low-frequency electromagnetic simulation work?

In essence, electromagnetic simulation aims to predict and understand the behavior of electric and magnetic fields in a given environment. The low-frequency range poses specific challenges and offers particular opportunities for analysis and design.

It all starts with modeling. Each component, material or interface must be accurately represented to ensure the validity of the simulation. This includes not only the shape and size of objects, but also their electromagnetic properties such as permittivity, permeability and conductivity. The accuracy of the initial model is essential, as a small error at this stage can lead to large discrepancies in the final results.

Discretization is a necessary step in transforming Maxwell’s continuous equations into a set of equations that can be solved numerically. Depending on the method used, the simulation domain is divided into smaller units or elements. Each element represents a small portion of space and is used to approximate electromagnetic behavior locally. Finite element and finite difference methods are among the most popular for this task.
Solving discretized equations is a challenge in itself. Depending on the size, complexity and detail of the model, this may require significant computing power. Advanced algorithms, often specific to the type of problem and software used, are employed to solve these equations efficiently.
Once the simulation is complete, the analysis stage begins. This involves examining the results to extract relevant information. Depending on the purpose of the simulation, this could include visualizing field distributions, estimating energy losses, detecting potential hot spots or assessing electromagnetic forces on particular components.

Concrete examples and simulation tools

Low-frequency electromagnetic simulation is ubiquitous in the design of electronic devices ranging from electric motors to smartphones. It is essential to guarantee the performance, safety and efficiency of our devices. Whether in transport, healthcare or communications, its impact is profound and often invisible, but crucial to the smooth running of our modern technology.
Electromagnetic simulation is essential in transformer design to optimize efficiency, reduce losses and ensure uniform magnetic field distribution. By accurately modeling the core, windings and materials used, engineers can predict and mitigate undesirable phenomena such as magnetic saturation or harmonics.
Motors, whether induction, synchronous or DC, benefit greatly from simulation. It allows you to optimize winding layout, pole piece shape and other parameters to increase efficiency, reduce losses and improve motor life.
Appliances using induction heating, such as induction hobs, require simulations to optimize heat distribution, minimize energy losses and ensure efficient use of electricity, while avoiding interference with other appliances.
Pacemakers, hearing aids and other medical implants are designed using low-frequency simulations to ensure that they function correctly in an electromagnetic environment, while minimizing the risk of undesirable interactions with other medical devices or machines.
These systems use magnetic fields to transfer energy without physical contact. Simulation helps optimize transmission distance, energy efficiency and minimize disruption or interference with other systems.
Simulation is used to design enclosures or screens that protect sensitive electronic devices from electromagnetic interference. This is particularly important to ensure that devices work properly in electronics-dense environments, such as offices or hospitals.
Some systems installed in research projects such as particle gas pedals or nuclear fusion reactors are subject to strong, variable magnetic fields (during resistive transitions or disruptions), creating electromagnetic forces that can guide the design of these components. Simulation helps optimize the path of induced currents through the electrical resistance in these components to reduce Lorentz forces that could compromise the structural integrity of the system.