7 Examples of Electromagnetic Waves
Table of Contents
What are Electromagnetic Waves?
Electromagnetic Waves are waves formed from vibrations between magnetic and electric field. Put simply, Electromagnetic Waves comprises of vibrating electric and magnetic fields.
These waves are created when a magnetic field meets an electric field, they exhibit waves which we now call ‘Electromagnetic waves’; from electric, we got ‘Electro’ which was merged with magnetic to give the name ‘Electromagnetic’.
An Electromagnetic Wave’s magnetic and electric field lies at right angles, perpendicular to each other and to the direction of the Electromagnetic Wave. Electromagnetic waves move continuously at a speed of 3.00×10^8 in space.
Electromagnetic Waves sometimes experience diffraction or interference and can travel through solid, air or vacuum. Its propagation from one region to another does not require a medium to do so, unlike sound and water waves, which all depend on a medium to travel from one place to another.
Electromagnetic Waves are also transversal in nature, as the waves move in a cross-like manner. These waves are therefore measured concerning wavelength and amplitude. The cross-like pattern of Electromagnetic Waves gives rise to crests and troughs, the latter being the lowest distance while the former is the highest distance.
The distance between two successive crests is what we call wavelength, while the distance from the bottom of the centre to either the bottom or the top of the crest is referred to as amplitude. Electromagnetic Waves change with respect to frequency and wavelength. The lower the frequencies, the longer the wavelength, and the higher the frequency, the shorter the frequency.
Electromagnetic waves produce a lot of energy, though it has no mass, which helps it to exert a lot of radiation pressure. The energy produced by Electromagnetic Waves is proportional to the frequency of the wave. The frequency and wavelength are connected through the speed of light.
Examples of Electromagnetic Waves
Here, we are going to consider the seven examples of electromagnetic waves in order of increasing wavelength.
• Radio waves
• Visible Light
• Ultra violet light (UV light)
• Gamma Rays
In the Electromagnetic spectrum, a radio wave is one of the Electromagnetic Waves with the highest wavelength. Signals from mobile phones, television sets, and radio set are transmitted by radio waves. Radio waves move at a speed equal to the speed of light in space, they are created by accelerating charged particles like electric currents which vary with time.
Radio waves can be produced artificially by using antennas which perform the Job of transmitters (by converting electric signals into radio waves which makes it possible for the waves to move around the earth, some thousands of kilometres and back; receivers are also used to generate these radio waves through the use of radio receivers.
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Uses of Radio waves
- Radio waves are used in radio navigation systems
- They are used in communication satellite
- Radio waves are used in present-day technology for mobile and fixed radio communication.
A microwave is an Electromagnetic Wave which has a minute wavelength of ranging from 0.001-3m, compared to that of the radio wave. The microwave oven in our homes makes use of long wavelength which are as long as the length of a man’s foot.
Uses of microwaves
- Microwaves are used domestically for heating food in microwave ovens.
- Microwaves are used for radar.
- They are used in communications.
Infrared waves are Electromagnetic Waves with longer wavelengths than visible light, making them invisible to the human eye. Molecules generate infrared waves during their oscillation. We experience heat from the sun and when we stand close to the fire, using infrared radiation.
Uses of Infrared waves
- Infrared is used in annealing processes.
- Infrared is used in print drying.
- It is used to heat foods in the home
- It is also used in night vision
This is the region of the Electromagnetic spectrum that is visible to the human eye. It is the range of wavelengths that actuate colour and brightness comprehension which are visible to the human eye. The sun is a natural source of visible light.
When white light passes through a glass prism, it breaks into different colours like the rainbows. Violet colour has the shortest wavelength of 380-420 while red has the longest wavelength between the range of 650-780 nanometers.
Even the electric bulb in our homes is a source of visible light in that the colour of the bulb we see is the colour of light reflected through the bulb while other colours are absorbed.
Uses of Visible Light
Light can be used in the cosmetic and medical world. Visible light helps to see our surroundings and also determines day and night.
Note: visible light, as important as it is, also hurts our health when it exceeds the threshold effect.
Ultraviolet (UV) is an example of Electromagnetic radiation, which has a wavelength ranging from 10-400 nanometers, making it shorter than that of visible light. This ultraviolet is found in sunlight which comprises of 10% of the total Electromagnetic radiation emitted by the sun.
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Ultraviolet is used in creating fluorescent effects in the medical world.
Ultraviolet s used in curing resins and inks.
An x-ray is an Electromagnetic Wave of wavelength, shorter than that of ultraviolet light but having high energy capable of penetrating any object. Supernova stars, black holes, neutron stars etc; emit x-rays. The thickness of the earth’s atmosphere makes it almost impossible for X-rays to pass through to the earth’s surface.
X-rays do have detrimental effects on the human body, so much so that even the United States government and the International Agency for Research on Cancer, WHO; classify X-rays as Carcinogen (capable of causing cancer).
X-rays are mostly used in the medical field by physicians to find real-time Images of internal structures of the patient which are in motion, by using Fluoroscopes.
X-rays of lower energy are used to manage or treat cancers.
Gamma ray is a form of Electromagnetic wave with a very minute wavelength. Because of its short wavelength, gamma rays also transmit the highest photon energy. Spectroscopy is used to detect decaying radionuclides with the help of the energy spectrum of gamma rays.
Certain information about most of the energetic phenomena in the universe is provided with the help of gamma rays.
Gamma rays are used to remove bacteria that cause decay in many foods.