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American Journal of Physics

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Physics -- Study and teaching, Bioelectric impedance, Water in the body


We present a novel laboratory activity on RC circuits aimed at introductory physics students in life-science majors. The activity teaches principles of RC circuits by connecting ac-circuit concepts to bioelectrical impedance analysis (BIA) using a custom-designed educational BIA device. The activity shows how a BIA device works and how current, voltage, and impedance measurements relate to bioelectrical characteristics of the human body. From this, useful observations can be made including body water, fat-free mass, and body fat percentage. The laboratory is engaging to pre-health and life-science students, as well as engineering students who are given the opportunity to observe electrical components and construction of a commonly used biomedical device. Electrical concepts investigated include alternating current, electrical potential, resistance, capacitance, impedance, frequency, phase shift, device design, and the use of such topics in biomedical analysis.


Copyright 2014 American Association of Physics Teachers. This article may be downloaded for personal use only. Any other use requires prior permission of the author and the American Association of Physics Teachers. The following article appeared in American Journal of Physics. May 2014, Vol. 82 Issue 5, p521-528 and may be found at:



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