Biological fluids are water-based, ionic conductors. As such, they have both high relative dielectric constants and substantial conductivities, meaning they are lossy dielectrics. These fluids contain charged molecules (free charges), whose movements play roles in essentially all cellular processes from metabolism to communication with other cells. Using the problem of a point source in air above a biological fluid of semi-infinite extent, the bound charges in the fluid are shown to perform the function of a fast-acting Faraday cage, which protects the interior of the fluid from external electric fields. Free charges replace bound charges in accordance with the fluid's relaxation time, thereby providing a smooth transition between the initial protection provided by the bound charges and the steady state protection provided by the free charges. The electric fields within the biological fluid are thus small for all times just as they would be inside a classical Faraday cage.
Skip Nav Destination
PAPERS| May 01 2014
Biology's built-in Faraday cages
Maurice M. Klee; Biology's built-in Faraday cages. Am. J. Phys. 1 May 2014; 82 (5): 451–459. https://doi.org/10.1119/1.4868016
Download citation file: