Human skin permittivity determined by millimeter wave reflection measurements

Bioelectromagnetics. 2007 Jul;28(5):331-9. doi: 10.1002/bem.20308.


Millimeter wave reflection from the human skin was studied in the frequency range of 37-74 GHz in steps of 1 GHz. The forearm and palm data were used to model the skin with thin and thick stratum corneum (SC), respectively. To fit the reflection data, a homogeneous unilayer and three multilayer skin models were tested. Skin permittivity in the mm-wave frequency range resulted from the permittivity of cutaneous free water which was described by the Debye equation. The permittivity increment found from fitting to the experimental data was used for determination of the complex permittivity and water content of skin layers. Our approach, first tested in pure water and gelatin gels with different water contents, gave good agreement with literature data. The homogeneous skin model fitted the forearm data well. Permittivity of the forearm skin obtained with this model was close to the skin permittivity reported by others. To fit reflection from the palmar skin with a thick SC, a skin model containing at least two layers was required. Multilayer models provided better fitting to both the forearm and palmar skin reflection data. The fitting parameters obtained with different models were consistent with each other.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Electromagnetic Phenomena*
  • Epidermis / physiology
  • Female
  • Forearm / physiology
  • Gelatin / chemistry
  • Hand / physiology
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Permeability
  • Skin / chemistry
  • Skin / radiation effects*
  • Skin Physiological Phenomena / radiation effects*
  • Water / analysis


  • Water
  • Gelatin