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Sci Rep. 2018 Oct 25;8(1):15806. doi: 10.1038/s41598-018-34059-6.

The non-linear electrical properties of human skin make it a generic memristor.

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Department of Physics, University of Oslo, Sem Sælands vei 24, 0371, Oslo, Norway.
Department of Physics, University of Oslo, Sem Sælands vei 24, 0371, Oslo, Norway.
Department of Clinical and Biomedical Engineering Oslo University Hospital, Sognsvannsveien 20, 0372, Oslo, Norway.
Department of EECS, University of California, Berkeley, 253 Cory Hall, Berkeley, CA, 94720-1770, USA.


An electrical measurement is non-linear when the applied stimulus itself affects the electrical properties of the underlying tissue. Corresponding voltage-current plots may exhibit pinched hysteresis loops which is the fingerprint of a memristor (memory resistor). Even though non-linear electrical properties have been demonstrated for different biological tissues like apples, plants and human skin, non-linear measurements as such have not been defined, yet. We are studying the non-linear properties of human skin systematically and initiate non-linear measurements on biological tissues as a field of research in general by introducing applicable recording techniques and parameterization. We found under which voltage stimulus conditions a measurement on human skin is non-linear and show that very low voltage amplitudes are already sufficient. The non-linear properties of human skin originate from the sweat ducts, as well as, from the surrounding tissue, the stratum corneum and we were able to classify the overall skin memristor as a generic memristor. Pinched hysteresis loops vary largely among subjects; an indication for the potential use in biomedical sensor applications.

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