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Marking 100 years since Rudolf Höber’s discovery of the insulating envelope surrounding cells and of the beta-dispersion exhibited by tissue

Author(s): Ronald Pethig | Ilka Schmueser

Journal: Journal of Electrical Bioimpedance
ISSN 1891-5469

Volume: 3;
Issue: 1;
Start page: 74;
Date: 2012;
Original page

Keywords: Cell membrane | Beta-dispersion | AC impedance measurement

Between 1910 and 1913 Rudolf Höber presented proof that the interiors of red blood cells and muscle cells contain conducting electrolytes, and that each conducting core is contained within an insulating membrane.  He did this by demonstrating, in a series of remarkable electrical experiments, that the conductivity of compacted cell samples at low frequencies (~150 Hz) was about ten-times less than the value obtained at ~5 MHz.  On perforation of the membrane, the low-frequency conductivity increased to a value approaching that exhibited at MHz frequencies. Apart from representing a major milestone in the development of cell biology and electrophysiology, Höber’s work was the first description of what we now call the dielectric b-dispersion exhibited by cell suspensions and fresh tissue.
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