What Is Computational Electromagnetics?

C.B. Fox

Computational electromagnetics, which is also often called electromagnetic modeling or computational electrodynamics, is a field of physics that allows scientists to predict and describe the behavior of electromagnetic waves when they come into contact with physical objects. Scientists may use computational electromagnetics when studying any electromagnetic wave, though it is most commonly used in the study of radio waves or microwaves. In these cases, electromagnetic theory is often used to help scientists develop better antennas and communications equipment. In order to model these complex equations, scientists require the use of powerful computers.

Man holding computer
Man holding computer

Scientists working in computational electrodynamics rely on a set of equations known as Maxwell's equations. These equations are used to describe the behavior of electric and magnetic fields, which are affected by both large and small objects. Certain of Maxwell's equations are appropriate when studying the effects of atomic particles on electromagnetic fields, while others more accurately describe the way these fields are affected by macroscopic objects. Both of these sets of equations take into account the electromagnetic fields emitted by these other objects and describe what happens when these different sets of electromagnetic fields interact.

The equations used in computational electromagnetics are extremely complex. They take into account a number of different fields and predict the behavior of these fields over a given area in space. The complexity of the math requires the use of computers that can complete many different calculations and extrapolate information from them. The interaction of electromagnetic fields can be represented mathematically and visually so that the behavior of these fields can be easily seen and understood.

In the study of radio and microwaves, there are a number of practical applications for computational electromagnetics. A greater understanding of this field has led to advancements in communication and to the creation of antennas that are able to transmit and receive data more reliably. The field of cellular technology, in particular, has greatly benefited from a more thorough knowledge of this field as well as from the increased computer power to calculate electromagnetic field interactions over a larger area.

Though the behavior of an electromagnetic field is not well-organized, for simplicity, computational electromagnetics scientists often model these fields symmetrically. For many applications, it is more practical to think of these fields as generalities that can be modeled as simple two or three dimensional objects, such as circles or spheres. It is possible to make more accurate models of electromagnetic fields if they are needed for various applications.

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