Bioelectricity and Biomagnetism

Academic year
Subject Area
Biomedical Engineering
Language of Instruction
Mode of Delivery
ECTS Credits
1st Cycle Studies

Recommended Prerequisites


Teaching Methods

Lectures presenting the main concepts, with the right approach to this unit.
Lectures to discuss and solve problems aiming to connect the studied concepts with practical examples, orders of magnitude, and estimations of physics quantities specific to the area of bioelectricity and biomagnetism.
Laboratory classes where the students apply the theoretical concepts in elementary experiments.
Support of the students individual effort in the search of theoretical and experimental information, and in its systematic analysis.

Learning Outcomes

Deepening of knowledge in a fundamental area for the understanding of bioelectricity and of biomagnetism phenomena.

Capacity of search and use of bibliography, to organize a coherent body of information on this area.

Capacity of problem solving, including the development of the required mathematical competences.

Capacity to implement and understand simple experiments related with the unit contents.

Contribution to the increase of general scientific culture, motivating to study other areas where the electromagnetism has important applications.

Competence in oral and written communication

Competence in information management

Competence in critical reasoning

Attention to quality

Competence in practical application of theoretical knowledge

Competence in analysis and synthesis

Knowledge of a foreign language

Competence on problem solving

Work Placement(s)



1. Bioelectricity
1.1. Electric properties of the cell
1.2. Electric field and electric potential
1.3. Charge distribution in a resting cell
1.4. Passive transmission of an electric signal in a nerve cell
1.5. Non-linear electric response of an excitable cell
1.6. Measurement of extra-cellular potentials
1.7. Physiological effects of an external current
2. Biomagnetism
2.1. Magnetic induction field.
2.2. Magnetic fields associated with the electric activity of heart, brain and nerve fibers
2.3. Measurement of magnetic susceptibility in physiological systems.
3. Electromagnetic radiation
3.1. Laws of Faraday and Lenz
3.2. Maxwell equations in vacuum
3.3. Production and detection of electromagnetic waves
3.4. Non-ionizing electromagnetic radiation
4. Electric circuits: transient response in different circuits types.

Assessment Methods

Exam: 100.0%


- Campo Electromagnético, L. Brito, M. Fiolhais e C. Providência, Ed. McGraw-Hill de Portugal, 1999.

- Electromagnetic Fields, R. K. Wangsness, 2nd ed., John Wiley & Sons, N.Y., 1979.

- Intermediate Physics for Medicine and Biology, R. K. Hobbie, 3rd ed., Springer-Verlag, N.Y., 1997.

- Introduction to Electrodynamics, D. J. Griffiths, 3rd ed., Prentice Hall International, Inc., 1999.

- Physics With Illustrative Examples From Medicine and Biology Electricity and Magnetism, G. B. Benedek e F. M. H. Villars, 2nd ed., Springer-Verlag, N. Y. Inc., 2000.