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The effect of passive magnetic shielding on dc magnetic field gradients imposed by both external and internal sources is studied for two idealized shield models: concentric spherical and infinitely-long cylindrical shells of linear material. It is found that higher-order multipoles of an externally applied magnetic field are always shielded progressively better for either geometry by a factor related to the order of the multipole. In regard to the design of internal coil systems, we determine reaction factors for the general multipole field and provide examples of how one can take advantage of the coupling of the coils to the innermost shell to optimize the uniformity of the field. Furthermore, we provide formulae relevant to active magnetic compensation systems which attempt to stabilize the interior fields by sensing and cancelling the exterior fields close to the outermost shell. Overall this work provides a comprehensive framework that is useful for the analysis and optimization of dc magnetic shields, serving as a theoretical and conceptual design guide as well as a starting point and benchmark for finite-element analysis.


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