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Radio frequency ( RF) refers to alternating (AC) or , oscillating in the range used in , extending from around twenty thousand times per second () to around three hundred billion times per second (), roughly between the upper limit of and the lower limit of frequencies.A. A. Ghirardi, Radio Physics Course, 2nd ed. New York: Rinehart Books, 1932, p. 249 The term does not have an official definition, and different sources specify slightly different upper and lower bounds for the frequency range. RF usually refers to electrical rather than mechanical oscillations. However, mechanical RF systems do exist (see mechanical filter and ).


Special properties of RF current
that oscillate at radio frequencies have special properties not shared by or alternating current of lower frequencies.
  • Energy from RF currents in conductors can radiate into space as electromagnetic waves (). This is the basis of technology.
  • RF current does not penetrate deeply into electrical conductors but tends to flow along their surfaces; this is known as the .
  • RF currents applied to the body often do not cause the painful sensation and muscular contraction of that lower frequency currents produce.
    (2018). 9781869280055, New Africa Books. .
    This is because the current changes direction too quickly to trigger 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 current can easily air, creating a conductive path through it. This property is exploited by "high frequency" units used in electric , 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 insulator of a . This is because capacitive reactance in a circuit decreases with 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 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 . Therefore, RF current must be carried by specialized types of cable called transmission line.


Frequency bands
The of frequencies is divided into bands with conventional names designated by the International Telecommunications Union (ITU):

Frequencies of 1 GHz and above are conventionally called ,

(2018). 9788120349353, PHI Learning Pvt. Ltd. .
while frequencies of 30 GHz and above are designated . More detailed are given by the standard IEEE letter- band frequency designations IEEE Std 521-2002 Standard Letter Designations for Radar-Frequency Bands , Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers, 2002. and the EU/NATO frequency designations.
(2018). 9781608072095, Artech House. .


In communication
Radio frequencies are generated and processed within very many functional units such as transmitters, receivers, computers, and televisions to name a few. Radio frequencies are also applied in systems including telephony and control circuits.


In medicine
Radio frequency (RF) energy, in the form of radiating waves or electrical currents, has been used in medical treatments for over 75 years,
(2018). 9780792365594, Springer. .
generally for minimally invasive surgeries using radiofrequency ablation including the treatment of .
(2018). 9783540710967, Springer. .
Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) uses radio frequency waves to generate images of the human body.
(2004). 9783540208051, Springer Science & Business Media. .

Radio frequencies at non-ablation energy levels are commonly used as a part of aesthetic treatments that can tighten skin, reduce fat by and also , or promote healing.

is a medical treatment that uses RF induced heat as a form of or occupational therapy and in surgical procedures. It is commonly used for muscle relaxation. It is also a method of heating tissue electromagnetically for therapeutic purposes in medicine. Diathermy is used in physical therapy and occupational therapy to deliver moderate heat directly to pathologic lesions in the deeper tissues of the body. Surgically, the extreme heat that can be produced by diathermy may be used to destroy , , and , and to to prevent excessive bleeding. The technique is particularly valuable in and surgery of the eye. Diathermy equipment typically operates in the short-wave radio frequency (range 1–100 MHz) or microwave energy (range 434–915 MHz).

Pulsed electromagnetic field therapy (PEMF) is a medical treatment that purportedly helps to heal bone tissue reported in a recent NASA study. This method usually employs electromagnetic radiation of different frequencies - ranging from static magnetic fields, through extremely low frequencies (ELF) to higher radio frequencies (RF) administered in pulses.


Effects on the human body
Radio frequency current through tissue will generate heat in the tissue and can cause burns.


Measurement
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.


See also
  • Amplitude modulation ("AM")
  • Electromagnetic Interference
  • Electromagnetic radiation
  • Electromagnetic spectrum
  • Frequency allocation
  • Frequency bandwidth
  • Frequency modulation ("FM")
  • Pulsed electromagnetic field therapy
  • Spectrum management


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