The electrical properties of many biological materials are known to exhibit frequency dispersions. In the human skin, the impedance measured at various frequencies closely describes a circular locus of the Cole-Cole type in the complex impedance plane. In this report, the formative mechanisms responsible for the anomalous circular-arc behavior of skin impedance were investigated, using data from impedance measurements taken after successive strippings of the skin. The data were analyzed with respect to changes in the parameters of the equivalent Cole-Cole model after each stripping. For an exponential resistivity profile (Tregear, 1966, Physical Functions of Skin; Yamamoto and Yamamoto, 1976, Med. Biol. Eng., 14:151--158), the profile of the dielectric constant was shown to be uniform across the epidermis. Based on these results, a structural model has been formulated in terms of the relaxation theory of Maxwell and Wagner for inhomogeneous dielectric materials. The impedance locus obtained from the model approximates a circular are with phase constant alpha = 0.82, which compares favorably with experimental data. At higher frequencies a constant-phase, frequency-dependent component having the same phase constant alpha is also demonstrated. It is suggested that an approximately rectangular distribution of the relaxation time over the epidermal dielectric sheath is adequate to account for the anomalous frequency characteristics of human skin impedance. © 1981, The Biophysical Society. All rights reserved.
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