Radio frequency

Radio frequency

Electromagnetic frequencies ranging from 3 kHz to 300 GHz

Radio frequency (RF) is the oscillation rate of an alternating electric current or voltage or of a magnetic, electric or electromagnetic field or mechanical system in the frequency[1] range from around 20 kHz to around 300 GHz. This is roughly between the upper limit of audio frequencies and the lower limit of infrared frequencies, and also encompasses the microwave range, though other definitions treat microwaves as a separate band from RF.[2][3] These are the frequencies at which energy from an oscillating current can radiate off a conductor into space as radio waves, so they are used in radio technology, among other uses. Different sources specify different upper and lower bounds for the frequency range.

Electric current

Electric currents that oscillate at radio frequencies (RF currents) have special properties not shared by direct current or lower audio frequency alternating current, such as the 50 or 60 Hz current used in electrical power distribution.

  • Energy from RF currents in conductors can radiate into space as electromagnetic waves (radio waves). This is the basis of radio technology.
  • RF current does not penetrate deeply into electrical conductors but tends to flow along their surfaces; this is known as the skin effect.
  • RF currents applied to the body often do not cause the painful sensation and muscular contraction of electric shock that lower frequency currents produce.[4][5] This is because the current changes direction too quickly to trigger depolarization of nerve membranes. However, this does not mean RF currents are harmless; they can cause internal injury as well as serious superficial burns called RF burns.
  • RF current can easily ionize air, creating a conductive path through it. This property is exploited by "high frequency" units used in electric arc welding, which use currents at higher frequencies than power distribution uses.
  • Another property is the ability to appear to flow through paths that contain insulating material, like the dielectric insulator of a capacitor. This is because capacitive reactance in a circuit decreases with increasing frequency.
  • In contrast, RF current can be blocked by a coil of wire, or even a single turn or bend in a wire. This is because the inductive reactance of a circuit increases with increasing frequency.
  • When conducted by an ordinary electric cable, RF current has a tendency to reflect from discontinuities in the cable, such as connectors, and travel back down the cable toward the source, causing a condition called standing waves. RF current may be carried efficiently over transmission lines such as coaxial cables.

Frequency bands

The radio spectrum of frequencies is divided into bands with conventional names designated by the International Telecommunication Union (ITU):

More information Frequencyrange, Wavelength range ...

Frequencies of 1 GHz and above are conventionally called microwave,[8] while frequencies of 30 GHz and above are designated millimeter wave. More detailed band designations are given by the standard IEEE letter- band frequency designations[6] and the EU/NATO frequency designations.[9]



Radio frequencies are used in communication devices such as transmitters, receivers, computers, televisions, and mobile phones, to name a few.[1] Radio frequencies are also applied in carrier current systems including telephony and control circuits. The MOS integrated circuit is the technology behind the current proliferation of radio frequency wireless telecommunications devices such as cellphones.


Medical applications of radio frequency (RF) energy, in the form of electromagnetic waves (radio waves) or electrical currents, have existed for over 125 years,[10] and now include diathermy, hyperthermy treatment of cancer, electrosurgery scalpels used to cut and cauterize in operations, and radiofrequency ablation.[11] Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) uses radio frequency fields to generate images of the human body.[12]

Non-surgical weight loss equipment

Radio Frequency or RF energy is also being used in devices that are being advertised for weight loss and fat removal. The possible effects RF might have on the body and whether RF can lead to fat reduction needs further study. Currently, there are devices such as trusculpt ID, Venus Bliss and many others utilizing this type of energy alongside heat to target fat pockets in certain areas of the body. That being said, there is limited studies on how effective these devices are.


Test apparatus for radio frequencies can include standard instruments at the lower end of the range, but at higher frequencies, the test equipment becomes more specialized.[13][citation needed] [14]

Mechanical oscillations

While RF usually refers to electrical oscillations, mechanical RF systems are not uncommon: see mechanical filter and RF MEMS.

See also


  1. Jessica Scarpati. "What is radio frequency (RF, rf)?". SearchNetworking. Retrieved 29 January 2021.
  2. A. A. Ghirardi, Radio Physics Course, 2nd ed. New York: Rinehart Books, 1932, p. 249
  3. Curtis, Thomas Stanley (1916). High Frequency Apparatus: Its construction and practical application. US: Everyday Mechanics Company. pp. 6. electric shock pain.
  4. Mieny, C.J. (2005). Principles of Surgical Patient Care (2nd ed.). New Africa Books. p. 136. ISBN 9781869280055.
  5. Jeffrey S. Beasley; Gary M. Miller (2008). Modern Electronic Communication (9th ed.). pp. 4–5. ISBN 978-0132251136.
  6. Kumar, Sanjay; Shukla, Saurabh (2014). Concepts and Applications of Microwave Engineering. PHI Learning Pvt. Ltd. p. 3. ISBN 978-8120349353.
  7. Leonid A. Belov; Sergey M. Smolskiy; Victor N. Kochemasov (2012). Handbook of RF, Microwave, and Millimeter-Wave Components. Artech House. pp. 27–28. ISBN 978-1-60807-209-5.
  8. Ruey J. Sung & Michael R. Lauer (2000). Fundamental approaches to the management of cardiac arrhythmias. Springer. p. 153. ISBN 978-0-7923-6559-4. Archived from the original on 2015-09-05.
  9. Melvin A. Shiffman; Sid J. Mirrafati; Samuel M. Lam; Chelso G. Cueteaux (2007). Simplified Facial Rejuvenation. Springer. p. 157. ISBN 978-3-540-71096-7.
  10. Bethge, K. (2004-04-27). Medical Applications of Nuclear Physics. Springer Science & Business Media. ISBN 9783540208051. Archived from the original on 2018-05-01.
  11. "RF Radio Frequency Signal Generator » Electronics Notes". Retrieved 29 January 2021.
  12. Siamack Ghadimi (2021), Measure a DUT's input power using a directional coupler and power sensor, EDN

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