Radio frequency electromagnetic exposure: Tutorial review on experimental dosimetry

C. K. Chou, H. Bassen, J. Osepchuk, Q. Balzano, R. Petersen, M. Meltz, R. Cleveland, J. C. Lin, L. Heynick

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

143 Scopus citations


Radio frequency (RF) dosimetry is the quantification of the magnitude and distribution of absorbed electromagnetic energy within biological objects that are exposed to RF fields At RF, the dosimetric quantity, which is called the specific absorption rate (SAR), is defined as the rate at which energy is absorbed per unit mass. The SAR is determined not only by the incident electromagnetic waves but also by the electrical and geometric characteristics of the irradiated subject and nearby objects. It is related to the internal electric field strength (E) as well as to the electric conductivity and the density of tissues; therefore, it is a suitable dosimetric parameter, even when a mechanism is determined to be "athermal." SAR distributions are usually determined from measurements in human models, in animal tissues, or from calculations. This tutorial describes experimental techniques that are used commonly to determine SAR distributions along with the SAR limitations and unresolved problems. The methods discussed to obtain point, planar, or whole-body averaged SARs include the use of small E-field probes or measurement of initial rate of temperature rise in an irradiated object.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)195-208
Number of pages14
Issue number3
StatePublished - 1996
Externally publishedYes


  • Biological effects
  • Conductivity
  • Electric field
  • Microwave
  • Nonionizing radiation
  • SAR

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biophysics
  • Physiology
  • Radiology Nuclear Medicine and imaging


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