A thermal model for human thresholds of microwave-evoked warmth sensations

Bioelectromagnetics. 1997;18(8):578-83.


Human thresholds for skin sensations of warmth were measured at frequencies from 2.45 to 94 GHz. By solving the one-dimensional bioheat equation, we calculated the temperature increase at the skin surface or at a depth of 175 microm at incident power levels corresponding to the observed thresholds. The thermal analysis suggests that the thresholds correspond to a localized temperature increase of about 0.07 degrees C at and near the surface of the skin. We also found that, even at the highest frequency of irradiation, the depth at which the temperature receptors are located is not a relevant parameter, as long as it is within 0.3 mm of the surface. Over the time range of the simulation, the results of the thermal model are insensitive to blood flow, but sensitive to thermal conduction; and this sensitivity increases strongly with frequency. We conclude with an analysis of the effect of thermal conduction on surface temperature rise, which becomes a dominant factor at microwave frequencies over 10 GHz.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Body Temperature Regulation / radiation effects*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Microwaves*
  • Models, Biological*
  • Sensitivity and Specificity
  • Sensory Thresholds / radiation effects*
  • Skin / radiation effects
  • Temperature