Fortifying Buildings with Electromagnetic Simulation



In today's interconnected world, where digital connectivity and data storage play a critical role in our daily lives, safeguarding buildings against electromagnetic events, both natural and man-made, has become imperative. This blog explores the importance of protecting buildings, especially data centers, from lightning strikes and electromagnetic pulses (EMPs) and how electromagnetic simulation can be a valuable tool in achieving enhanced protection.


Lightning Strike

The awe-inspiring phenomenon of lightning is a powerful natural event that can have detrimental effects on digital systems. Lightning occurs when electrical charges build up within a storm cloud, leading to the formation of 'stepped leaders' and 'streamers,' culminating in a flash of lightning. Tall buildings with metal structures can become preferred paths for lightning, subjecting them to intense return stroke currents. This electrical surge can result in structural damage and generate high-intensity magnetic fields, inducing harmful currents in electronic systems and components, thereby risking data loss and infrastructure damage.


Electromagnetic Pulse (EMP)

EMP, often depicted in action movies, is a real phenomenon with potential destructive consequences for electrical and electronic systems. EMPs can occur naturally, such as solar EMPs, or can result from human activities, like nuclear explosions (NEMPs). These high-intensity electromagnetic waves can enter buildings through various apertures and induce damaging voltages and currents in sensitive electronics, leading to data loss and system failures.

Protecting Digital Infrastructure

Effective protection against lightning and EMP involves several strategies. Lightning protection often relies on air terminals or lightning rods to divert current away from sensitive systems. Shielding plays a vital role in preventing low-frequency magnetic fields from permeating building materials and cabling. EMP protection requires minimizing aperture sizes and implementing shielding to create protected zones within the building. Conductive gaskets and coatings can further reduce electromagnetic field transmission through seams and windows. Filtering and transient protection devices can attenuate or clamp voltages and currents at connector interfaces, safeguarding electronic components.

The Role of Electromagnetic Simulation

Physics-based electromagnetic simulation emerges as a crucial tool for assessing vulnerabilities and designing robust protection measures. With simulation, potential lightning and EMP effects on digital infrastructure can be evaluated before constructing or upgrading buildings, optimizing protection schemes to reduce costs. Multi-disciplinary simulations also ensure that electromagnetic protection measures do not compromise structural integrity or cooling system performance.

Simulation technologies, like CST Studio Suite, offer visualization of electromagnetic fields and coupling paths, enabling engineers to gain insights into building performance and optimize designs. Accessing such simulation technology through the 3DEXPERIENCE platform ensures seamless collaboration among stakeholders, promoting continuity from design to manufacturing.


As our reliance on digital infrastructure grows, protecting buildings from lightning strikes and EMPs becomes paramount. Electromagnetic simulation plays a pivotal role in evaluating vulnerabilities, designing effective protection measures, and ensuring the integrity of building structures and electronic systems. By embracing these advanced simulation technologies, we can fortify our buildings against electromagnetic events and bolster the resilience of our digital age.


  • Jetstream | National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. (n.d.).

  • Ampère’s law

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Mohammed Zourob

Application Engineer

Mohammed holds a Bachelor's in Electrical Engineering and an MBA. His expertise lies in power and renewable energy, electromagnetic simulations, and product life cycle management.