Even the best amplifiers in the world (and ours is not) can be susceptible to electromagnetic noise. A Faraday cage is a container made of conducting material, such as wire mesh or metal plates, that shields what it encloses from external electric fields. The Faraday cage is named after 1800s scientist Michael Faraday, but to learn how the cage works we start with another famous scientist, Charles-Augustin de Coulomb. The take-home is that this law gives us the foundation for a mathematical relationship that relates charge and electric fields within a fixed volume of space.
Any net electric field inside the conductor would cause charge to move since it is abundant and mobile, but equilibrium demands that the net force within the conductor is equal to zero. Rule 2 tells us that the electric field inside the conductor at equilibrium is zero, and Rule 1 tells us that the charge of the conductor will be found entirely at the surface (boundary).


Many Faraday cages, including the one you are building and using, have holes in them for practical purposes (to see inside the cage). Using multiple layers of mesh and overlapping them such that the holes on one level are blocked by wire on another level is another effective way to build a barrier for EMI noise. Below we will examine the effects of the Faraday cage on various conditions when doing neural recordings with the SpikerBox, along with an easy experiment you can do at home.
Note that we also sell pre-made Faraday Cages if you do not want to visit the hardware store. Microwave ovens are examples of Faraday cages, because they are meant to prevent the radiation used to cook the food from escaping into the environment.
Cages made in this way with fencing or mesh material still have conducting surfaces that generate the necessary barriers for electric fields, but there are types of electromagnetic waves such as radio or microwave that could theoretically enter the holes.


Place your SpikerBox by these electronics, and also turn on all fluorescent lights in the room. Instead of a using double alligator cable to clip the reference to your Faraday cage, you can make your probe cable consist of three wires. Two usual electrodes (reference + recording electrode) + one extra reference with alligator clip that you connect to the metal cookie box.
You can thank Nikola Tesla for your electrical noise, but, have no fear, Michael Faraday has come to your rescue!



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