Aug 2022

Electromagnetic Waves: 3 Applications In Biology & Medicine

August 11, 2022

Electromagnetic Waves: 3 Applications In Biology & Medicine

Physics is one of the most interesting and engaging subjects students can learn in school. It has two main branches: modern and classical physics. It also has several sub-branches, including astrophysics, quantum physics, nuclear physics, mechanical physics, acoustics, thermodynamics, and electromagnetism.

What makes physics a vital subject to learn is that it helps prepare students to become contributors to the solving of many of the world’s problems. In other words, mastering physics gives students more career opportunities when they grow older. This is also why parents should consider enrolling their children in H2 physics tuition to motivate them to excel in school.

Biological and medical applications of electromagnetic waves

Every day, humanity knowingly (or unknowingly) uses artificially made electromagnetic radiation. When you heat food in the microwave oven, you use electromagnetic waves. The same thing happens when radar waves guide aeroplanes, heaters provide warmth through infrared waves, and television stations transmit electromagnetic waves to broadcast shows, films, and the news.

Aside from the everyday uses of electromagnetism, this sub-branch of physics has paved the way for many biological and medical breakthroughs that have helped save millions of lives in Singapore and other parts of the world.

  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI)

MRIs are more suitable for imaging soft tissues, making them more accurate in imaging principal anatomical structures, such as the heart, brain, and muscles, and detecting various types of cancer.

MRIs are used in radiology to give doctors a view of a patient’s internal structures through three different EMF fields. The first EMF field is a static magnetic zero-frequency field produced by a large magnet to align the hydrogen nuclei inside the patient’s body. The second is low-power time-varying EMF gradients generated by small magnets in X, Y, and Z planes that provide the spatial position for the protons. These same magnetic field gradients provide image slices by focusing on a particular body part to be examined. The last ones are radiofrequency fields generated by the non-radiative near field of the emitter to activate the protons in the body and cause them to emit radio waves to create anatomical images.

  • Radiofrequency thermal ablation

In medicine, radiofrequency ablation (RFA) procedures are generally used in cardiology to treat heart disorders and in oncology to treat tumours. RFA is a minimally invasive procedure that helps correct irregular heart rhythms (atrial fibrillation). The RFA device has an ablator, RF generator, and control console. The catheter has an energy-emitting probe at the tip and is inserted into the massive veins in the heart. The ablation process consists of decimating tiny diseased bits of the heart muscle through the resistive heat created by high-frequency RF waves.

Radiofrequency thermal ablation is also used in treating tumours in kidneys, lungs, and bones but with a generator with a higher power. RF waves pass through a needle-like probe that’s placed inside the tumour. The waves increase the temperature inside the tumour tissue, destroying the mass inside the patient’s body.

  • Localised dielectric heating (shortwave diathermy)

This is the therapeutic application of high-frequency alternating current for physiotherapy treatments. To speed up the healing of the tissues, RF fields provide deep heat to the area placed under conductance plates. This is also used in heating superficial structures selectively through different surface heating techniques. This can relieve pain and muscle spasms, reduce swelling, reduce inflammation, decrease joint stiffness, and increase joint range.

  • Other medical and paramedical uses

Dermatology also uses RF surgery to treat skin disorders. They combine bipolar RF energy and diode laser to treat both small and larger acne scars. This is the better-liked way for many dermatologists because it creates very little skin damage. Aside from that, the use of low RF intensity to prevent the rise in temperature during the procedure prevents overheating of the treated area.

RF devices are also used in paramedical aesthetics to treat rosacea, acne, psoriasis, pigmented skin, and other skin disorders.


As you can see, electromagnetism is a great subject matter that can inspire junior college students to take up a degree in physics. It’s also a good reason for parents to get a physics tutor for their children to help them excel in school.

Best Physics Tuition offers H2 physics tuition for students who want to be better at the subject. Get in touch with us today to know more about what we offer.

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