Electromagnetic Waves

How do EM waves differ from mechanical waves?

Unlike, mechanical waves, electromagnetic waves do not require a medium in order to pass through. They are capable of transporting energy through the vacuum of outer space.

The Electromagnetic Spectrum

Radio: Lowest frequency and longest wavelength on the spectrum. Wavelength: Longer than 1 mm. It is generally used in television and radio signals.


Microwave: Low frequency and long wavelength but not as low and long as radio. Used for cooking and transmitting signals such as mobile phone calls.


Infrared: Low frequency and long wavelength but not as low and long as microwave and radio. Wavelength: Ranges from 710nm- 1mm. Used in optical fibre communication.


Visible: Medium frequency and wavelength. Wavelength: 400-700nm. Used for seeing.


Ultraviolet: High frequency and short wavelength but not as high and short as X-ray and Gamma-Ray. Wavelength: 10-310nm. Used for detecting forged bank notes by florescence and security pens. It is found naturally in sunlight.


X-Ray: High frequency and short wavelength but not as high and short as Gamma-Ray. Wavelength: 0.01-10nm. Used for finding medical images of bones and also in industry to check metal components and welds for cracks or other damage.


Gamma-Ray: Highest frequency and shortest wavelength. Wavelength: Less than 0.01nm (size of an atomic nucleus). Used for killing cancer cells and harmful bacteria in food.

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