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Biophys J. 1974 Apr;14(4):295-315.

Measurement of the impedance of frog skeletal muscle fibers.


Impedance measurements are necessary to determine the passive electrical properties of cells including the equivalent circuits of the several pathways for current flow. Such measurements are usually made with microelectrodes of high impedance (some 15 MOmega) over a wide frequency range (1-10,000 Hz) and so are subject to many errors. An input amplifier has been developed which has negligible phase shift in this frequency range because it uses negative feedback to keep tiny the voltage on top of the microelectrode. An important source of artifact is the extracellular potential produced by capacitive current flow through the wall of the microelectrodes and the effective resistance of the bathing solution. This artifact is reduced some 10 times by shielding the current microelectrode with a conductive paint. The residual artifact is analyzed, measured, and subtracted from our results. The interelectrode coupling capacitance is reduced below 2 x 10(-17) F and can be neglected. Phase and amplitude measurements are made with phase-sensitive detectors insensitive to noise. The entire apparatus is calibrated at different signal to noise ratios and the nature of the extracellular potential is investigated. The phase shift in the last 5-20 mum of the microelectrode tip is shown to be small and quite independent of frequency under several conditions. Experimental measurements of the phase characteristic of muscle fibers in normal Ringer are presented. The improvements in apparatus and the physiological significance of impedance measurements are discussed. It is suggested that the interpretation of impedance measurements is sensitive to small errors and so it is necessary to present objective evidence of the reliability of one's apparatus and measurements.

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