Document Type


Date of Original Version



Electrical, Computer and Biomedical Engineering


Surface electrodes are commonly used electrodes clinically, in applications such as functional electrical stimulation for the restoration of motor functions, pain relief, transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation, electrocardiographic monitoring, defibrillation, surface cardiac pacing, and advanced drug delivery systems. Common to these applications are occasional reports of pain, tissue damage, rash, or burns on the skin at the point where electrodes are placed. In this study, we quantitatively analyzed the effects of acute noninvasive electrical stimulation from concentric ring electrodes (CRE) to determine the maximum safe current limit. We developed a three-dimensional multi-layer model and calculated the temperature profile under the CRE and the corresponding energy density with electrical-thermal coupled field analysis. Infrared thermography was used to measure skin temperature during electrical stimulation to verify the computer simulations. We also performed histological analysis to study cell morphology and characterize any resulting tissue damage. The simulation results are accurate for low energy density distributions. It can also be concluded that as long as the specified energy density applied is kept below 0.92 (A2/cm4·s−1), the maximum temperature will remain within the safe limits. Future work should focus on the effects of the electrode paste.