What is skin effect? - Definition from WhatIs.com
Part of the Electronics glossary:

Skin effect is a tendency for alternating current (AC) to flow mostly near the outer surface of an electrical conductor, such as metal wire.The effect becomes more and more apparent as the frequency increases.

The main problem with skin effect is that it increases the effective resistance of a wire for AC at moderate to high frequencies, compared with the resistance of the same wire at direct current (DC) and low AC frequencies. The effect is most pronounced in radio-frequency (RF) systems, especially antennas and transmission lines. But it can also affect the performance of high-fidelity sound equipment by causing attenuation in the treble range (the highest-pitched components of the audio).

In large RF antenna arrays, hollow tubing can be used in place of solid rods with little or no loss of efficiency; in this respect, skin effect is an asset. It also works in favor of the use of copper-clad steel wire for more modest antennas. Such wire is mechanically stronger than solid or stranded copper, because steel has a higher tensile strength than copper. The skin effect causes most of the current to flow through the copper cladding, which is a better electrical conductor than steel.

Skin effect occurs with brief pulses of current, for the same reasons it occurs at high AC frequencies.

Also see ampere per meter squared, current, and radio frequency (RF).

This was last updated in November 2013
Posted by: Margaret Rouse

Related Terms


  • laser

    - A laser is a coherent and focused beam of photons; coherent, in this context, means that it is all one wavelength, unlike ordinary light which showers on us in many wavelengths. The acronym laser s... (WhatIs.com)

  • photon

    - In some ways, visible light behaves like a wave phenomenon, but in other respects it acts like a stream of high-speed, submicroscopic particles. (WhatIs.com)

  • saser (sound amplification by stimulated emission of radiation)

    - The SASER is the sonic equivalent to the laser and is often referred to as a sound laser or acoustic laser. SASERs beam concentrated sound waves in the terahertz range. (WhatIs.com)


  • Electronics

    - Terms related to electronics, including definitions about electrical components and words and phrases about computers, laptops parts, digital cameras, televisions and home appliances.

  • Internet applications

    - This WhatIs.com glossary contains terms related to Internet applications, including definitions about Software as a Service (SaaS) delivery models and words and phrases about web sites, e-commerce ...

Ask a Question About skin effectPowered by ITKnowledgeExchange.com

Get answers from your peers on your most technical challenges

Tech TalkComment



    Contribute to the conversation

    All fields are required. Comments will appear at the bottom of the article.