Electromagnetic (EM) waves are changing electric and also magnetic fields, carrying energy and momentumthrough space. EM tide are services of Maxwell"s equations, which are the fundamental equations of electrodynamics. EM waves need no medium, they can travel through emptyspace. Sinusoidal plane waves space one form of electromagnetic waves.Not every EMwaves are sinusoidal airplane waves, yet all electromagnetic waves deserve to be regarded as a linearsuperposition that sinusoidal airplane waves travel in arbitrarily directions.A aircraft EMwave traveling in the x-direction is that the kind

E(x,t) = Emaxcos(kx - ωt + φ), B(x,t) = Bmaxcos(kx - ωt + φ).

You are watching: Electromagnetic waves travel through space at a speed of

E is the electrical field vector, and also B is the magnetic field vector of the EM wave. For electromagnetic waves E and also B are always perpendicular to each other and also perpendicular to the direction the propagation. The direction of propagation is the direction the E x B.

If, because that a wave traveling in the x-direction E = Ej, climate B =Bkand j x k = i. Electromagneticwaves are transverse waves.


The wave number is k =2π/λ, wherein λ is the wavelength that the wave. The frequency f the the tide is f = ω/2π, ω is the angular frequency. The rate of any periodic tide is the product that its wavelength and frequency.

v = λf.

The rate of any type of electromagnetic waves in cost-free space is the speed the light c = 3*108 m/s. Electromagnetic waves have the right to have any type of wavelength λ or frequency f as long as λf = c.

When electromagnetic waves travel through a medium, the speed of the waves in the tool is v = c/n(λfree), wherein n(λfree) is the table of contents of refraction of the medium. The table of contents of refraction n is a nature of the medium, and it counts on the wavelength λfree of the EM wave. If the tool absorbs several of the energytransported by the wave, then n(λfree) isa facility number. For air n is nearly equal to 1 for every wavelengths. As soon as an EM tide travels from one tool with table of contents of refraction n1 into an additional medium with a various index that refraction n2, climate itsfrequency continues to be the same, but its speed and wavelength change. For air n is practically equal come 1.

The electromagnetic spectrum
Electromagnetic waves room categorized follow to their frequency f or, equivalently, according to their wavelength λ = c/f. Visible light has actually a wavelength variety from ~400 nm to ~700 nm. Violet light has a wavelength of ~400 nm, and also a frequency of ~7.5*1014 Hz. Red light has a wavelength the ~700 nm, and also a frequency the ~4.3*1014 Hz.

Visible light makes up just a small part of the complete electromagnetic spectrum. Electromagnetic tide with much shorter wavelengths and greater frequencies incorporate ultraviolet light, X-rays, and also gamma rays. Electromagnetic waves with longer wavelengths and also lower frequencies include infrared light, microwaves, and radio and also television waves.



Polarization is a phenomenon peculiar to transverse waves. Longitudinal tide such as sound cannot be polarized. Light and other electromagnetic waves space transverse waves comprised of support perpendicular, fluctuating electric and also magnetic fields. In the diagram on the ideal an EM wave is propagating in the x-direction, the electrical field oscillates in the xy-plane, and the magnetic ar oscillates in the xz-plane. A line traces out the electric field vector as the tide propagates.

For a linearly polarized electromagnetic tide traveling in the x-direction, the angle the electrical field provides with the y-axis is unique.

An unpolarized electromagnetic tide traveling in the x-direction is a superposition of plenty of waves. For each of these waves the electric field vector is perpendicular come the x-axis, however the edge it provides with the y-axis is different for various waves. For unpolarized light traveling in the x-direction Ey and Ez space randomly varying on a timescale that is much shorter than that needed for observation.The diagram on the irradiate depicts unpolarized light. Organic light is, in general, unpolarized.

Electromagnetic tide transportenergy with space. In cost-free space this power is transported through the tide with rate c. The magnitude of the power flux S is the amount of power that the cross a unit area perpendicular to the direction the propagation that the wave per unit time. It is given by

S = EB/(μ0) = E2/(μ0c),

since for electromagnetic tide B = E/c. The devices of S are J/(m2s). μ0 is a constant called the permeability of cost-free space, μ0 = 4π*10-7 N/A2.

Note:The energy transported by one electromagnetic tide is proportional come the square of the amplitude, E2, the the wave.

The Poynting vector is the energy flux vector.Itis named after john Henry Poynting.Its direction is the direction the propagation of the wave, i.e. The direction in which theenergy is transported.

S = (1/μ0)E x B.

Energy every unit area every unit time is power per unit area. S represents thepower per unit area in an electromagnetic wave. If one electromagnetic wave falls onto anarea A where it is absorbed, then the power yielded to the area is ns =SA.

The time typical of the size of the Poynting vector, , iscalled the irradiance or intensity. The irradiance is the averageenergy every unit area per unit time. = 2>/(μ0c)= Emax2/(2μ0c).

EM wave additionally transportmomentum. The momentum flux is S/c. The magnitude of the inert flux S/c is the lot of momentum that the cross a unit area perpendicular to the direction the propagation that the wave per unit time. If one electromagnetic wave falls onto an area A whereby it isabsorbed, the momentum delivered to the area in a direction perpendicular to thearea per unit time is dpperp/dt = (1/c)SA.

The momentum of the object absorbing the radiation thus changes. The rate ofchange is dpperp/dt = (1/c)SAperp, wherein Aperpis the cross-sectional area of the thing perpendicular to the direction ofpropagation the the electromagnetic wave. The momentum of an objectchanges if a pressure is exhilaration on it.

Fperp = dpperp/dt = (1/c)SAperp

is the force exerted by the radiation on the object the is soaking up theradiation. Splitting both political parties of this equation through Aperp,we discover the radiation push (force per unit area) ns = (1/c)S. Ifthe radiation is reflected rather of absorbed, climate its momentum alters direction.Theradiation press on things that shows the radiation is thus twice theradiation pressure on an object that absorbs the radiation.


Electromagnetic waves deliver energy and also momentum throughout space. The energy and momentum transported by one electromagnetic wave space not continuously spread over the wave front. Energy and momentum are transported by photons in discrete packages. Photons space the particles of light. Light is "quantized". Photons always move with the rate of light. The energy of every photon is E = hf = hc/λ. The inert of every photon is E/c = hf/c = h/λ.

See more: The Sum Of All Of The Chemical Reactions That Occur In A Cell Collectively Are Called

(h = 6.626*10-34J s = 4.136*10-15 eV s unit of energy: 1 eV = 1.6*10-19 J advantageous product: hc = 1240 eV nm)

So what is an electromagnetic wave, a wave or a present of photons? What is our current understanding that the nature the light and other EM waves?

Quantum mechanics see photons as quanta or packets of energy. However these quanta act nothing like macroscopic particles. Because that a macroscopic fragment we assume that we deserve to measure its position and its velocity at any type of time with arbitrary precision and accuracy. Offered that we have done this, we can predict with arbitrary precision and accuracy its succeeding motion. But for any kind of photon, we can only suspect the probability the the photon will certainly be discovered at a given position. That probability can be calculated making use of the wave equation for electromagnetic waves. Whereby the tide equation predicts a high light intensity, the probability is large, and where it predicts a short light intensity, the probability is small.