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Name:  Jared P.
Status:  student
Age:  18
Location: N/A
Country: N/A
Date: 2000-2001

Is it true that magnetic or electromagentic fields can damage electronic components like transistors? If so, why does this happen?

Yes magnetic and electric fields can damage electronic components. They can do so in a number of ways. If the device depends upon storing information by orienting magnetic domains -- like a floppy disc -- and you place a magnet close by you will disrupt the orientations and damage the disc. If the device depends on controlling a small voltage of a certain component, like a transistor, and you overwhelm that small voltage with a large electric field, you will interfere with the device's operation. If the electric and magnetic fields are due to high energy radiation -- cosmic waves, x-rays and the like -- the device may be physically damaged and no longer operate properly. We are in a period of the 11 year maximum in solar activity and entire power grids are at risk from solar electromagnetic radiation.

So there are many ways magnetic, electric, fields and their combination can damage electronic systems.

Vince Calder

It is true that electric and magnetic fields can damage electronic components. These fields are what cause charged particles to change how they move. Such fields, if strong enough, can significantly alter the path along which current flows through an electronic component. The fields can also speed up or slow down the current through the device. If current passes where the device is not designed to handle current, or if too much current flows through a component, static electricity and heat can build up within the device. Neither of these would be good for an electronic component.

Kenneth Mellendorf

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