25 November 2023

In physics there are many phenomena that people are unaware of and that are present in our day to day. It is thanks to the understanding of such phenomena that we have been able, for example, to develop efficient communication systems using electromagnetic waveswhich allow us from using electric frequency and electric fields to the electromagnetic spectrum as an effective way to send and receive information.

What we have mentioned is closely related to the wavelength and, shortly, we will explain everything you need to know about it and the direct relationship it has with the frequency and electromagnetic radiation. Continue reading and learn about this physical quantity!

Wavelength Definition

In the field of physics and telecommunications there are many parameters, including wavelength. This one, in particular, allows to know or define a wave that propagates through empty space or through a medium.

This is a parameter that is defined for all waves that are periodic, that is, each of the waves that have a repetitive pattern in time and as a function of distance. Due to the wavelength, the study of electrical frequencyradio waves or electromagnetic radiation has been tremendously facilitated.

In this sense, it is enough to know the length of the wave and determine if it is a periodic one or not. Once this is done, all you need is study a small portion of the wave; This is known as the study of the sine wave or sinusoidal, which contains other parameters that allow a much more precise analysis.

Wavelength is defined as the distance between two points that they repeat themselves due to their periodic nature.

  • For practical purposes, imagine that you have a trigonometric function such as ‘sine’. If you take a tour starting from the origin, you will see that you will reach a point where you will be at the same point again, but at a distance ‘X’. This is what is known as the wavelength, as long as it is applied in the field of physics.

Keep in mind that all electromagnetic waves that propagate through space travel at the speed of light. The difference is in the wavelength the longer it is, the less energy it will have. For this reason, AM radio waves have a much longer range than microwave waves, due to their frequency and the fact that they have a longer propagation range.

Wavelength can also be used to situations where there are Reflection of lightonly, in this situation, everything is more complex.

What are the properties of wavelength?

No matter where you are, the wave properties will remain the same. In fact, the wavelength is only one of the different properties that are currently known.

Now, regarding the most common properties we can mention the following:

  1. Amplitude

It is closely related to the size of the wave. Let’s imagine for a moment that we have a two-dimensional plane, where the vertical axis is given by the amplitude (height), while the horizontal axis would be the distance. The amplitude would be represented by the vertical axis and, when studying the amplitude, this axis should be considered.

As for the magnitude of the amplitude, this will depend on the field in which it is applied. In the case of sound waves, values ​​expressed in dB are usually used (decibel), while in physics this can vary depending on the current and other physical quantities.

  1. Period

Its about time it takes for the wave to complete one cycle. A example Simple would be if you take a rope with a weight at one end and spin it. The time it takes to make a full turn is called ‘period’, the faster you do this tour (frequency), the smaller the period.

  1. The phase

It is a way of measuring time between waves and it is expressed in ‘degrees’, something like angles in mathematics but on a different plane.

What is the symbol for wavelength?

Each of the properties that we have mentioned has a specific symbolso the wavelength is not exempt from this same idea.

The symbol attributed to this physical parameter is lambda (λ), a symbol that It is usually used when physical and mathematical studies are being carried out. In physics it is used to identify that the value of the wavelength is being sought as a function of the speed of light, between the frequency of the wave to be studied.

What are the units of wavelength?

Like any other physical parameter, the wavelength has a unit of measurement, which comes from expressed in ‘meters’although but can also be expressed in submultiples such as kilometers, centimeters, etc., as long as the proper conversion is done.

The reason that this unit of measurement (meters) has been used to give a physical magnitude to the wavelength is due to the formula used to calculate this parameter. if we make a arithmetic operation for the wavelength equation:

  • In the numerator we have the unit of the speed of light (meters/seconds).
  • In the denominator part we would have the frequency (Hertz)where its equivalent would be time, that is, the number of cycles in a second.

When making the algebraic division we find that the only unit of measurement that remains is the meter and, for this reason, this is the physical magnitude of the length of the wave. Now you can use multiples and submultiples in order to give it a more understandable format, whether that works for you use meters (m) or nanometers (Nm)a very small unit of measure.

What is the formula for wavelength?

Refering to wavelength formulaits most basic form is the following:

Where the ‘V’ represents the speed of light, which can also be expressed with the letter ‘C’and the ‘F’ represents the frequency of the wave to be studied.

Is the object the same as the wavelength?

If we understand by ‘object’ some object that is at X distance from the observer, the wavelength will be the distance that the wave has to travel to get from point A to point B. The speed with which the wave travels It will depend on the frequency and the energy that the wave possesses..

So no, they’re not the same, but in a certain way are related to each other. In the same way, if it is about physical parameters, it is necessary to identify what their magnitudes and units of measurement are, because knowing this makes it easy to identify if it is the same thing or if it is something different.

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