At this point in the course we'll move into optics. This might seem like a separate topic from electricity and magnetism, but optics is really a sub-topic of electricity and magnetism. This is because optics deals with the behavior of light, and light is one example of an electromagnetic wave.
Light and other electromagnetic waves
Light is not the only example of an electromagnetic wave. Other electromagnetic waves include the microwaves you use to heat up leftovers for dinner, and the radio waves that are broadcast from radio stations. An electromagnetic wave can be created by accelerating charges; moving charges back and forth will produce oscillating electric and ...view middle of the document...
m.f is all about. A steadily-changing magnetic field can induce a constant voltage, while an oscillating magnetic field can induce an oscillating voltage.
Focus on these two facts:
1. an oscillating electric field generates an oscillating magnetic field
2. an oscillating magnetic field generates an oscillating electric field
Those two points are key to understanding electromagnetic waves.
An electromagnetic wave (such as a radio wave) propagates outwards from the source (an antenna, perhaps) at the speed of light. What this means in practice is that the source has created oscillating electric and magnetic fields, perpendicular to each other, that travel away from the source. The E and B fields, along with being perpendicular to each other, are perpendicular to the direction the wave travels, meaning that an electromagnetic wave is a transverse wave. The energy of the wave is stored in the electric and magnetic fields.
Properties of electromagnetic waves
Something interesting about light, and electromagnetic waves in general, is that no medium is required for the wave to travel through. Other waves, such as sound waves, can not travel through a vacuum. An electromagnetic wave is perfectly happy to do that.
An electromagnetic wave, although it carries no mass, does carry energy. It also has momentum, and can exert pressure (known as radiation pressure). The reason tails of comets point away from the Sun is the radiation pressure exerted on the tail by the light (and other forms of radiation) from the Sun.
The energy carried by an electromagnetic wave is proportional to the frequency of the wave. The wavelength and frequency of the wave are connected via the speed of light:
Electromagnetic waves are split into different categories based on their frequency (or, equivalently, on their wavelength). In other words, we split up the electromagnetic spectrum based on frequency. Visible light, for example, ranges from violet to red. Violet light has a wavelength of 400 nm, and a frequency of 7.5 x 1014 Hz. Red light has a wavelength of 700 nm, and a frequency of 4.3 x 1014 Hz. Any electromagnetic wave with a frequency (or wavelength) between those extremes can be seen by humans.
Visible light makes up a very small part of the full electromagnetic spectrum. Electromagnetic waves that are of higher energy than visible light (higher frequency, shorter wavelength) include ultraviolet light, X-rays, and gamma rays. Lower energy waves (lower frequency, longer wavelength) include infrared light, microwaves, and radio and television waves.
Energy in an electromagnetic wave
The energy in an electromagnetic wave is tied up in the electric and magnetic fields. In general, the energy per unit volume in an electric field is given by:
In a magnetic field, the energy per unit volume is:
An electromagnetic wave has both electric and magnetic fields, so the total energy density associated with an electromagnetic wave is:
It turns out...