Millimeter-wave emissivity as a metric for the non-contact diagnosis of human skin conditions

Amani Yousef Owda, Neil Salmon, Stuart William Harmer, Sergiy Shylo, Nicholas John Bowring, Nacer Ddine Rezgui, Mamta Shah

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


    A half-space electromagnetic model of human skin over the band 30–300 GHz was constructed and used to model radiometric emissivity. The model showed that the radiometric emissivity rose from 0.4 to 0.8 over this band, with emission being localized to a layer approximately one millimeter deep in the skin. Simulations of skin with differing water contents associated with psoriasis, eczema, malignancy, and thermal burn wounds indicated radiometry could be used as a non-contact technique to detect and monitor these conditions. The skin emissivity of a sample of 30 healthy volunteers, measured using a 95 GHz radiometer, was found to range from 0.2 to 0.7, and the experimental measurement uncertainty was ±0.002. Men on average were found to have an emissivity 0.046 higher than those of women, a measurement consistent with men having thicker skin than women. The regions of outer wrist and dorsal forearm, where skin is thicker, had emissivities 0.06–0.08 higher than the inner wrist and volar forearms where skin is generally thinner. Recommendations are made to develop a more sophisticated model of the skin and to collect larger data sets to obtain a deeper understanding of the signatures of human skin in the millimeter wave band. Bioelectromagnetics. 38:559–569, 2017.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)559-569
    Number of pages11
    Issue number7
    Publication statusPublished - 1 Oct 2017


    • burns
    • eczema
    • malignant lesions
    • permittivity
    • vascularization


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