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I’m conducting research into acupuncture, and need advice on a physics problem.

Organic semiconducting materials exist in animals. One large source is the connective tissue. In the context of acupuncture, this posses a “circuit” problem. The scenario is this:

In electronics, semiconductors are usually only used to create a device (such as a transistor), and the conducting wires are metal. But in animals, a single organic semiconducting material can serve as the entire conductor, often extending to a length of a metre or so, which conducts a tiny DC voltage.

In the medical context, the idea is that a DC circuit exists between each organ and related locations on our skin (perhaps analogous to a metal wire with a series of resistors placed along it, each resistor being one of these locations). The anatomical purpose of this is as a circulatory system that supplies (amongst other things) extra charge to enable the recipient cells to function (since, when the “cable” is severed, the cells begin to die within about 30 minutes). But there is a further (perhaps inadvertent) communication taking place via this circuit. Information from each organ is conveyed between the organ and these related locations via an electrical signal on this DC.

My question is this. Since the conductor that the signal is passing along is entirely made of a single semiconducting material (probably the connective tissue), what speed would the signal travel at?

Would the mobility of the semiconducting material have any bearing on this? (The mobility of organic semiconductors is said to range from 0.1 to 1 cm2/V • s.)

All assistance in this matter is greatly appreciated.

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  • $\begingroup$ Thanks for your comment. I think my own confusion about some of the concepts lead to others not understanding my question. The fact that the issue concerns acupuncture is irrelevant; I'm asking advice on a simple physics matter. I have now realized I may be confusing the issue of communication via an electrical signal with communication via an EM wave (possibly--if the two are not the same). Anyway, I will reword the above question in he hope that someone may be able to answer my question (if I can ever figure out the correct way to answer it). $\endgroup$ – Fletcher Sep 24 '16 at 10:43
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I have no idea about the semiconductors in an animal body. In normal semiconductors you can expect that a signal moves at the speed of light, which is usually given by c/sqrt(relative permittivity), where c is the vacuum speed of light. The mobility should have no influence on this as long as it is so low as you mentioned.

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  • $\begingroup$ Thanks for this. Since posting the question, I had found this info elsewhere. The relative permittivity of human connective tissue is 303000, when the signal frequency is 1000Hz, which gives a VF of 0.00182 and hence a propagation speed of about 545,000 metres per second. And other research on waves, etc, has given me all the info I needed, which does, indeed, correlate nicely with the phenomenon I was aiming to account for. (I still can't figure out the importance of electron drift velocity, nor charge mobility, but I don't need to know this anyway, I guess.) $\endgroup$ – Fletcher Sep 25 '16 at 9:36

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