Radio frequency (RF) is the oscillation rate of an alternating electric current or voltage or of a magnetic, electric or electromagnetic field or mechanical system in the frequency[1] range from around 20 kHz to around 300 GHz. This is roughly between the upper limit of audio frequencies and the lower limit of infrared frequencies, and also encompasses the microwave range, though other definitions treat microwaves as a separate band from RF.[2][3] These are the frequencies at which energy from an oscillating current can radiate off a conductor into space as radio waves, so they are used in radio technology, among other uses. Different sources specify different upper and lower bounds for the frequency range.

Electric current

Electric currents that oscillate at radio frequencies (RF currents) have special properties not shared by direct current or lower audio frequency alternating current, such as the 50 or 60 Hz current used in electrical power distribution.

Frequency bands

Main article: Radio spectrum

The radio spectrum of frequencies is divided into bands with conventional names designated by the International Telecommunication Union (ITU):

ITU designation IEEE bands[6]
Full name Abbreviation[7]
Below 3 Hz >105 km
3–30 Hz 105–104 km Extremely low frequency ELF
30–300 Hz 104–103 km Super low frequency SLF
300–3000 Hz 103–100 km Ultra low frequency ULF
3–30 kHz 100–10 km Very low frequency VLF
30–300 kHz 10–1 km Low frequency LF
300 kHz – 3 MHz 1 km – 100 m Medium frequency MF
3–30 MHz 100–10 m High frequency HF HF
30–300 MHz 10–1 m Very high frequency VHF VHF
300 MHz – 3 GHz 1 m – 100 mm Ultra high frequency UHF UHF, L, S
3–30 GHz 100–10 mm Super high frequency SHF S, C, X, Ku, K, Ka
30–300 GHz 10–1 mm Extremely high frequency EHF Ka, V, W, mm
300 GHz – 3 THz 1 mm – 0.1 mm Tremendously high frequency THF

Frequencies of 1 GHz and above are conventionally called microwave,[8] while frequencies of 30 GHz and above are designated millimeter wave. More detailed band designations are given by the standard IEEE letter- band frequency designations[6] and the EU/NATO frequency designations.[9]


See also: Radio § Applications, and Radio spectrum § Applications


Radio frequencies are used in communication devices such as transmitters, receivers, computers, televisions, and mobile phones, to name a few.[1] Radio frequencies are also applied in carrier current systems including telephony and control circuits. The MOS integrated circuit is the technology behind the current proliferation of radio frequency wireless telecommunications devices such as cellphones.


Main article: Medical applications of radio frequency

Medical applications of radio frequency (RF) energy, in the form of electromagnetic waves (radio waves) or electrical currents, have existed for over 125 years,[10] and now include diathermy, hyperthermy treatment of cancer, electrosurgery scalpels used to cut and cauterize in operations, and radiofrequency ablation.[11] Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) uses radio frequency fields to generate images of the human body.[12]

Non-surgical weight loss equipment

Radio Frequency or RF energy is also being used in devices that are being advertised for weight loss and fat removal. The possible effects RF might have on the body and whether RF can lead to fat reduction needs further study. Currently, there are devices such as trusculpt ID, Venus Bliss and many others utilizing this type of energy alongside heat to target fat pockets in certain areas of the body. That being said, there is limited studies on how effective these devices are.


Test apparatus for radio frequencies can include standard instruments at the lower end of the range, but at higher frequencies, the test equipment becomes more specialized.[13][citation needed] [14]

Mechanical oscillations

While RF usually refers to electrical oscillations, mechanical RF systems are not uncommon: see mechanical filter and RF MEMS.

See also


  1. ^ a b Jessica Scarpati. "What is radio frequency (RF, rf)?". SearchNetworking. Retrieved 29 January 2021.
  2. ^ "J. A. Fleming, The Principles of Electric Wave Telegraphy and Telephony, London: Longmans, Green & Co., 1919, p. 364". 1919.
  3. ^ A. A. Ghirardi, Radio Physics Course, 2nd ed. New York: Rinehart Books, 1932, p. 249
  4. ^ Curtis, Thomas Stanley (1916). High Frequency Apparatus: Its construction and practical application. US: Everyday Mechanics Company. pp. 6. electric shock pain.
  5. ^ Mieny, C.J. (2005). Principles of Surgical Patient Care (2nd ed.). New Africa Books. p. 136. ISBN 9781869280055.
  6. ^ a b IEEE Std 521-2002 Standard Letter Designations for Radar-Frequency Bands Archived 2013-12-21 at the Wayback Machine, Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers, 2002. (Convenience copy at National Academies Press.)
  7. ^ Jeffrey S. Beasley; Gary M. Miller (2008). Modern Electronic Communication (9th ed.). pp. 4–5. ISBN 978-0132251136.
  8. ^ Kumar, Sanjay; Shukla, Saurabh (2014). Concepts and Applications of Microwave Engineering. PHI Learning Pvt. Ltd. p. 3. ISBN 978-8120349353.
  9. ^ Leonid A. Belov; Sergey M. Smolskiy; Victor N. Kochemasov (2012). Handbook of RF, Microwave, and Millimeter-Wave Components. Artech House. pp. 27–28. ISBN 978-1-60807-209-5.
  10. ^ Ruey J. Sung & Michael R. Lauer (2000). Fundamental approaches to the management of cardiac arrhythmias. Springer. p. 153. ISBN 978-0-7923-6559-4. Archived from the original on 2015-09-05.
  11. ^ Melvin A. Shiffman; Sid J. Mirrafati; Samuel M. Lam; Chelso G. Cueteaux (2007). Simplified Facial Rejuvenation. Springer. p. 157. ISBN 978-3-540-71096-7.
  12. ^ Bethge, K. (2004-04-27). Medical Applications of Nuclear Physics. Springer Science & Business Media. ISBN 9783540208051. Archived from the original on 2018-05-01.
  13. ^ "RF Radio Frequency Signal Generator » Electronics Notes". Retrieved 29 January 2021.
  14. ^ Siamack Ghadimi (2021), Measure a DUT's input power using a directional coupler and power sensor, EDN