University of Virginia

Wilsdorf Hall is a 99,000 square-foot, five-story structure that links the materials science and chemical engineering buildings for collaborative research in materials science and materials engineering, chemical engineering, and nanotechnology at the University of Virginia (UVA).

Vitatech was retained by VDMO Architects as the EMI Consultant for the UVA MSENT building project to analyze the EMI/RFI emissions at the proposed site by (1) performing comprehensive EMI/RFI testing; (2) evaluate the sensitivity of the proposed laboratory equipment being installed inside the nanotechnology laboratory areas; and (3) recommend magnetic shielding solutions to attenuate any potential EMI/RFI problems.

Vitatech was contracted by the UVA Facilities Planning and Construction department to design, install, test and certify an AC ELF (extremely low frequency) dual-substrate magnetic shield for the sub-basement switchgear room in the Materials Science and Engineering building at UVA to reduce the magnetic field levels. The performance guaranteed shield installation was achieved.

Technical Objective

To ensure low EMI levels within the laboratories located directly across the hallway from the switchgear room and in the offices above the switchgear in the new Materials and Science Engineering building at the University of Virginia, Charlottesville, VA.

EMF Analysis

EMF survey data analysis determined that AC extremely low frequency (ELF) magnetic fields emanated from an electrical/switchgear room, located on the sub-basement level of the Materials Science and Engineering building, producing elevated magnetic field levels throughout the area designated for nanotechnology, electron microscopy, magnetic resonance imaging and other scientific tools. These elevated fields would generate electromagnetic interference (EMI) in each of these laboratories, compromising the optimum scientific environment desired throughout the Materials Science and Engineering building.

EMF Mitigation Solution

The nanotechnology tool user insisted that AC ELF magnetic shielding was necessary for the main switchgear room (floor, walls and ceiling) to ensure low EMI levels within the laboratories located directly across the hallway from the switchgear room and in the offices above the switchgear. Due to these EMI concerns VITATECH designed and installed a dual-substrate AC ELF magnetic shielding system in the sub-basement main switchgear room.

EMF/RFI Conclusion

Post shield magnetic flux density levels ranged from 0.00 to 0.05 in all the sub-basement laboratories. Magnetic field levels 2- meters from the shielded switchgear were 0.3 mG at 10 to 15% loads. As the building loads increase to peak demand in the future, Vitatech predicts the magnetic field levels 2-meters from the shielded switchgear room will be less than 1 mG since the shielding attenuation characteristics of the dual substrate magnetic shielding system has a nonlinear response to increased magnetic fields levels.

Magnetic flux density levels recorded at 1-meter within the switchgear room of the sub-basement (Peak = 157mG)

Posted in: Scientific
Tags: Magnetic Shielding,


Wilsdorf Hall (Materials Science and Engineering building)

Services Provided:

EMI/RFI Testing, Electrical Distribution Simulations & Impact Analysis, EMI/RFI Shielding Design, Magnetic Field Shielding, Final Commissioning


Charlottesville, VA