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Title: Electromagnetic absorption by the human body from 1-15 GHz
Author: Melia, Gregory
Awarding Body: University of York
Current Institution: University of York
Date of Award: 2013
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Microwave radiation is emitted by a wide variety of computing, communications and other technologies. In many transport, industrial and medical contexts, humans are placed in close proximity to several of these sources of emission in reflective, enclosed cavities. Pseudo-reverberant conditions are created, in which absorption by human bodies can form a significant, even the dominant loss mechanism. The amount of energy stored, and hence the field intensities in these environments depend on the nature of electromagnetic absorption by the human body, so quantifying human absorption at these frequencies is necessary for accurate modelling of both electromagnetic interference and communications path loss in such situations. The research presented here aims to quantify absorption by the body, for the purpose of simulating its effect on the environments listed above. For this purpose, nine volunteer participants are enlisted in a preliminary study in which their height and mass are taken and their electromagnetic absorption cross section is measured in a reverberation chamber. The preliminary study is unable to gather enough data to provide precise measurements during the time that a participant is willing to sit motionless in the chamber. Issues also exist due to power loss in some parts of the equipment. A number improvements are made to both the experimental equipment and methodology, and the study is repeated with a sample of 60 adult volunteer participants. The results are compared to the preliminary data and found to match, once unwanted absorption in the latter has been subtracted. The results are also validated using data from absorption by a spherical phantom of known absorptive properties. The absorption cross section of the body is plotted and its behaviour is compared to several biometric parameters, of which the body’s surface area is found to have a dominant effect on absorption. This is then normalised out to give an absorption efficiency of the skin, which is again compared to several biometric parameters; the strongest correlation is found to be with an estimate for average thickness of the subcutaneous fat layer. These data are used to model the effect of 400 passengers on the Q-factor of an airliner’s cabin. Absorption by the passengers is shown to be the dominant loss mechanism in the cabin, showing the importance of accounting for human absorption when modelling electromagnetic propagation and interference in situations that include human occupants. The relationship between subcutaneous fat and absorption efficiency is suggested for further research, as it promises development of new tools to study body composition, with possible medical applications.
Supervisor: Robinson, Martin ; Flintoft, Ian Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available