RF is short for radio frequency. RF is any frequency within the electromagnetic spectrum associated with radio wave propagation. When an RF current is supplied to an antenna, an electromagnetic field is created that then is able to propagate through space. Many wireless technologies are based on RF field propagation. These frequencies make up part of the electromagnetic radiation spectrum.
Electromagnetic radiation consists of waves of electric and magnetic energy moving together (that is, radiating) through space at the speed of light. Taken together, all forms of electromagnetic energy are referred to as the electromagnetic spectrum. Radio waves and microwaves emitted by transmitting antennas are one form of electromagnetic energy. Often the term electromagnetic field or radiofrequency (RF) field may be used to indicate the presence of electromagnetic or RF energy.
An RF field has both an electric and a magnetic component (electric field and magnetic field), and it is often convenient to express the intensity of the RF environment at a given location in terms of units specific for each component. For example, the unit "volts per meter" (V/m) is used to measure the strength of the electric field and the unit "amperes per meter" (A/m) is used to express the strength of the magnetic field.
RF waves can be characterized by a wavelength and a frequency. The wavelength is the distance covered by one complete cycle of the electromagnetic wave, while the frequency is the number of electromagnetic waves passing a given point per unit of time. The frequency of an RF signal is usually expressed in terms of a unit called the hertz (Hz). One Hz equals one cycle per second. One megahertz (MHz) equals one million cycles per second. Different forms of electromagnetic energy are categorized by their wavelengths and frequencies. The RF part of the electromagnetic spectrum is generally defined as that part of the spectrum where electromagnetic waves have frequencies in the range of about 3 kilohertz (3 kHz) to 300 gigahertz (300 GHz).