Radio frequency

Radio frequency

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Radio frequency is a rate of oscillation in the range of about 3 kHz to 300 GHz, which corresponds to the frequency
Frequency
Frequency is the number of occurrences of a repeating event per unit time. It is also referred to as temporal frequency.The period is the duration of one cycle in a repeating event, so the period is the reciprocal of the frequency...

 of radio waves
Radio waves
Radio waves are a type of electromagnetic radiation with wavelengths in the electromagnetic spectrum longer than infrared light. Radio waves have frequencies from 300 GHz to as low as 3 kHz, and corresponding wavelengths from 1 millimeter to 100 kilometers. Like all other electromagnetic waves,...

, and the alternating current
Alternating current
In alternating current the movement of electric charge periodically reverses direction. In direct current , the flow of electric charge is only in one direction....

s which carry radio signals. RF usually refers to electrical rather than mechanical oscillations, although mechanical RF systems do exist (see mechanical filter
Mechanical filter
A mechanical filter is a signal processing filter usually used in place of an electronic filter at radio frequencies. Its purpose is the same as that of a normal electronic filter: to pass a range of signal frequencies, but to block others. The filter acts on mechanical vibrations which are the...

 and RF MEMS
RF MEMS
The radio frequency microelectromechanical system acronym refers to electronic components of which moving sub-millimeter-sized parts provide RF functionality. RF functionality can be implemented using a variety of RF technologies...

).

Special properties of RF current


Electric current
Electric current
Electric current is a flow of electric charge through a medium.This charge is typically carried by moving electrons in a conductor such as wire...

s that oscillate at radio frequencies have special properties not shared by direct current
Direct current
Direct current is the unidirectional flow of electric charge. Direct current is produced by such sources as batteries, thermocouples, solar cells, and commutator-type electric machines of the dynamo type. Direct current may flow in a conductor such as a wire, but can also flow through...

 or alternating current
Alternating current
In alternating current the movement of electric charge periodically reverses direction. In direct current , the flow of electric charge is only in one direction....

 of lower frequencies. The energy in an RF current can radiate off a conductor into space as electromagnetic waves (radio waves
Radio waves
Radio waves are a type of electromagnetic radiation with wavelengths in the electromagnetic spectrum longer than infrared light. Radio waves have frequencies from 300 GHz to as low as 3 kHz, and corresponding wavelengths from 1 millimeter to 100 kilometers. Like all other electromagnetic waves,...

); this is the basis of radio technology. RF current does not penetrate deeply into electrical conductors but flows along their surfaces; this is known as the skin effect
Skin effect
Skin effect is the tendency of an alternating electric current to distribute itself within a conductor with the current density being largest near the surface of the conductor, decreasing at greater depths. In other words, the electric current flows mainly at the "skin" of the conductor, at an...

. For this reason, when the human body comes in contact with high power RF currents it can cause superficial but serious 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
Arc welding
Arc welding is a type of welding that uses a welding power supply to create an electric arc between an electrode and the base material to melt the metals at the welding point. They can use either direct or alternating current, and consumable or non-consumable electrodes...

, 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
Dielectric
A dielectric is an electrical insulator that can be polarized by an applied electric field. When a dielectric is placed in an electric field, electric charges do not flow through the material, as in a conductor, but only slightly shift from their average equilibrium positions causing dielectric...

 insulator of a capacitor. 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 wave
Standing wave
In physics, a standing wave – also known as a stationary wave – is a wave that remains in a constant position.This phenomenon can occur because the medium is moving in the opposite direction to the wave, or it can arise in a stationary medium as a result of interference between two waves traveling...

s, so RF current must be carried by specialized types of cable called transmission line
Transmission line
In communications and electronic engineering, a transmission line is a specialized cable designed to carry alternating current of radio frequency, that is, currents with a frequency high enough that its wave nature must be taken into account...

.

Radio communication


In order to receive radio signals an antenna
Antenna (radio)
An antenna is an electrical device which converts electric currents into radio waves, and vice versa. It is usually used with a radio transmitter or radio receiver...

 must be used. However, since the antenna will pick up thousands of radio signals at a time, a radio tuner is necessary to tune in to a particular frequency (or frequency range). This is typically done via a resonator – in its simplest form, a circuit with a capacitor
Capacitor
A capacitor is a passive two-terminal electrical component used to store energy in an electric field. The forms of practical capacitors vary widely, but all contain at least two electrical conductors separated by a dielectric ; for example, one common construction consists of metal foils separated...

 and an inductor
Inductor
An inductor is a passive two-terminal electrical component used to store energy in a magnetic field. An inductor's ability to store magnetic energy is measured by its inductance, in units of henries...

 forming a tuned circuit
LC circuit
An LC circuit, also called a resonant circuit or tuned circuit, consists of an inductor, represented by the letter L, and a capacitor, represented by the letter C...

. The resonator amplifies oscillations within a particular frequency band, while reducing oscillations at other frequencies outside the band.

Frequencies



Frequency Wavelength Designation Abbreviation
3 - 30 Hz 10^5km-10^4km Extremely low frequency
Extremely low frequency
Extremely low frequency is a term used to describe radiation frequencies from 3 to 300 Hz. In atmosphere science, an alternative definition is usually given, from 3 Hz to 3 kHz...

 
ELF
30 - 300 Hz 10^4km-10^3km Super low frequency
Super low frequency
Super-low frequency is the frequency range between 30 hertz and 300 hertz. This frequency range includes the frequencies of AC power grids ....

 
SLF
300 - 3000 Hz 10^3km-100km Ultra low frequency
Ultra low frequency
Ultra-low frequency is the frequency range of electromagnetic waves between 300 hertz and 3 kilohertz. In magnetosphere science and seismology, alternative definitions are usually given, including ranges from 1 mHz to 100 Hz, 1 mHz to 1 Hz, 10 mHz to 10 Hz...

 
ULF
3 - 30 kHz 100km-10km Very low frequency
Very low frequency
225px|thumb|right|A VLF receiving antenna at [[Palmer Station]], Antarctica, operated by Stanford UniversityVery low frequency or VLF refers to radio frequencies in the range of 3 kHz to 30 kHz. Since there is not much bandwidth in this band of the radio spectrum, only the very simplest signals...

 
VLF
30 - 300 kHz 10km-1km Low frequency
Low frequency
Low frequency or low freq or LF refers to radio frequencies in the range of 30 kHz–300 kHz. In Europe, and parts of Northern Africa and of Asia, part of the LF spectrum is used for AM broadcasting as the longwave band. In the western hemisphere, its main use is for aircraft beacon,...

 
LF
300 kHz - 3 MHz 1km-100m Medium frequency
Medium frequency
Medium frequency refers to radio frequencies in the range of 300 kHz to 3 MHz. Part of this band is the medium wave AM broadcast band. The MF band is also known as the hectometer band or hectometer wave as the wavelengths range from ten down to one hectometers...

 
MF
3 - 30 MHz 100m-10m High frequency
High frequency
High frequency radio frequencies are between 3 and 30 MHz. Also known as the decameter band or decameter wave as the wavelengths range from one to ten decameters . Frequencies immediately below HF are denoted Medium-frequency , and the next higher frequencies are known as Very high frequency...

 
HF
30 - 300 MHz 10m-1m Very high frequency
Very high frequency
Very high frequency is the radio frequency range from 30 MHz to 300 MHz. Frequencies immediately below VHF are denoted High frequency , and the next higher frequencies are known as Ultra high frequency...

 
VHF
300 MHz - 3 GHz 1m-10cm Ultra high frequency
Ultra high frequency
Ultra-High Frequency designates the ITU Radio frequency range of electromagnetic waves between 300 MHz and 3 GHz , also known as the decimetre band or decimetre wave as the wavelengths range from one to ten decimetres...

 
UHF
3 - 30 GHz 10cm-1cm Super high frequency
Super high frequency
Super high frequency refers to radio frequencies in the range of 3 GHz and 30 GHz. This band of frequencies is also known as the centimetre band or centimetre wave as the wavelengths range from ten to one centimetres....

 
SHF
30 - 300 GHz 1cm-1mm Extremely high frequency
Extremely high frequency
Extremely high frequency is the highest radio frequency band. EHF runs the range of frequencies from 30 to 300 gigahertz, above which electromagnetic radiation is considered to be low infrared light, also referred to as terahertz radiation...

 
EHF

In medicine


Radio frequency (RF) energy has been used in medical treatments for over 75 years, generally for minimally invasive surgeries, using radiofrequency ablation
Radiofrequency ablation
Radio frequency ablation is a medical procedure where part of the electrical conduction system of the heart, tumor or other dysfunctional tissue is ablated using the heat generated from the high frequency alternating current to treat a medical disorder...

 and coagulation
Coagulation
Coagulation is a complex process by which blood forms clots. It is an important part of hemostasis, the cessation of blood loss from a damaged vessel, wherein a damaged blood vessel wall is covered by a platelet and fibrin-containing clot to stop bleeding and begin repair of the damaged vessel...

, including the treatment of sleep apnea
Sleep apnea
Sleep apnea is a sleep disorder characterized by abnormal pauses in breathing or instances of abnormally low breathing, during sleep. Each pause in breathing, called an apnea, can last from a few seconds to minutes, and may occur 5 to 30 times or more an hour. Similarly, each abnormally low...

. Magnetic resonance imaging
Magnetic resonance imaging
Magnetic resonance imaging , nuclear magnetic resonance imaging , or magnetic resonance tomography is a medical imaging technique used in radiology to visualize detailed internal structures...

 (MRI) uses radio frequency waves to generate images of the human body.

RF as a synonym for wireless


Although radio frequency is a rate of oscillation, the term "radio frequency" or its acronym "RF" is also used as a synonym for radio
Radio
Radio is the transmission of signals through free space by modulation of electromagnetic waves with frequencies below those of visible light. Electromagnetic radiation travels by means of oscillating electromagnetic fields that pass through the air and the vacuum of space...

 – i.e. to describe the use of wireless
Wireless
Wireless telecommunications is the transfer of information between two or more points that are not physically connected. Distances can be short, such as a few meters for television remote control, or as far as thousands or even millions of kilometers for deep-space radio communications...

 communication, as opposed to communication via an electrical connector
Electrical connector
An electrical connector is an electro-mechanical device for joining electrical circuits as an interface using a mechanical assembly. The connection may be temporary, as for portable equipment, require a tool for assembly and removal, or serve as a permanent electrical joint between two wires or...

. Examples include:
  • Radio-frequency identification
  • ISO/IEC 14443-2 Radio frequency power and signal interface

See also

  • Amplitude modulation
    Amplitude modulation
    Amplitude modulation is a technique used in electronic communication, most commonly for transmitting information via a radio carrier wave. AM works by varying the strength of the transmitted signal in relation to the information being sent...

  • Electromagnetic radiation
    Electromagnetic radiation
    Electromagnetic radiation is a form of energy that exhibits wave-like behavior as it travels through space...

  • Frequency allocation
    Frequency allocation
    Use of radio frequency bands of the electromagnetic spectrum is regulated by governments in most countries, in a Spectrum management process known as frequency allocation or spectrum allocation. Radio propagation does not stop at national boundaries...

  • Frequency bandwidth
  • Frequency modulation
    Frequency modulation
    In telecommunications and signal processing, frequency modulation conveys information over a carrier wave by varying its instantaneous frequency. This contrasts with amplitude modulation, in which the amplitude of the carrier is varied while its frequency remains constant...

  • Plastic welding
    Plastic welding
    Plastic welding or heat sealing is the process of welding plastic workpieces together. It is a very common process for joining plastics.-Hot gas welding:...

  • Radio waves
    Radio waves
    Radio waves are a type of electromagnetic radiation with wavelengths in the electromagnetic spectrum longer than infrared light. Radio waves have frequencies from 300 GHz to as low as 3 kHz, and corresponding wavelengths from 1 millimeter to 100 kilometers. Like all other electromagnetic waves,...

  • RF connector
    RF connector
    A coaxial RF connector is an electrical connector designed to work at radio frequencies in the multi-megahertz range.RF connectors are typically used with coaxial cables and are designed to maintain the shielding that the coaxial design offers. Better models also minimize the change in transmission...

  • RuBee
    RuBee
    RuBee is a two way, active wireless protocol designed for harsh environment, high security asset visibility applications. RuBee utilizes Long Wave magnetic signals to send and receive short data packets in a local regional network...

  • Spectrum management
    Spectrum management
    Spectrum management is the process of regulating the use of radio frequencies to promote efficient use and gain a net social benefit.The term radio spectrum typically refers to the full frequency range from 3 kHz to 300 GHz that may be used for wireless communication...


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