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Electromagnetic radiation allows us to observe the world around us. It is this radiation which reflects off of the objects around you and into your eye. The radiation your eye is sensitive to is only a small fraction of the total radiation emitted in the physical universe. All of the different fractions taped together make up the electromagnetic spectrum.

Dispersion

When white light is split into its component colours by a prism, you are looking at a portion of the electromagnetic spectrum.

The wavelength of a particular electromagnetic radiation will depend on how it was created.

Wave nature of em radiation

  1. List one source of electromagnetic waves. Hint: consider the spectrum diagram and look at the names we give to different wavelengths.
  2. Explain how an EM wave propagates, with the aid of a diagram.
  3. What is the speed of light? What symbol is used to refer to the speed of light? Does the speed of light change?
  4. Do EM waves need a medium to travel through?

The radiation can take on any wavelength, which means that the spectrum is continuous. Physicists broke down this continuous band into sections. Each section is defined by how the radiation is created, not the wavelength of the radiation. But each category is continuous within the min and max wavelength of that category, meaning there are no wavelengths excluded within some range.

The spectrum is in order of wavelength, with the shortest wavelength at one end and the longest wavelength at the other. The spectrum is then broken down into categories as detailed in [link] .

Electromagnetic spectrum
Category Range of Wavelengths (nm) Range of Frequencies (Hz)
gamma rays < 1 > 3 × 10 19
X-rays 1-10 3 × 10 17 - 3 × 10 19
ultraviolet light 10-400 7 , 5 × 10 14 - 3 × 10 17
visible light 400-700 4 , 3 × 10 14 - 7 , 5 × 10 14
infrared 700- 10 5 3 × 10 12 - 4 , 3 × 10 19
microwave 10 5 - 10 8 3 × 10 9 - 3 × 10 12
radio waves > 10 8 < 3 × 10 9

Since an electromagnetic wave is still a wave, the following equation that you learnt in Grade 10 still applies:

c = f · λ

Calculate the frequency of red light with a wavelength of 4 , 2 × 10 - 7  m

  1. We use the formula: c = f λ to calculate frequency. The speed of light is a constant 3 × 10 8 m/s.

    c = f λ 3 × 10 8 = f × 4 , 2 × 10 - 7 f = 7 , 14 × 10 14 Hz
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Ultraviolet radiation has a wavelength of 200 nm . What is the frequency of the radiation?

  1. Recall that all radiation travels at the speed of light ( c ) in vacuum. Since the question does not specify through what type of material the Ultraviolet radiationis traveling, one can assume that it is traveling through a vacuum. We can identify two properties of the radiation - w a v e l e n g t h ( 200 nm ) and speed ( c ).

  2. c = f λ 3 × 10 8 = f × 200 × 10 - 9 f = 1 . 5 × 10 15 Hz
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Examples of some uses of electromagnetic waves are shown in [link] .

Uses of EM waves
Category Uses
gamma rays used to kill the bacteria in marshmallows and to sterilise medical equipment
X-rays used to image bone structures
ultraviolet light bees can see into the ultraviolet because flowers stand out more clearly at this frequency
visible light used by humans to observe the world
infrared night vision, heat sensors, laser metal cutting
microwave microwave ovens, radar
radio waves radio, television broadcasts

In theory the spectrum is infinite, although realistically we can only observe wavelengths from a few hundred kilometers to those of gamma rays due to experimental limitations.

Humans experience electromagnetic waves differently depending on their wavelength. Our eyes are sensitive to visible light while our skin is sensitive to infrared, and many wavelengths we do not detect at all.

Em radiation

  1. Arrange the following types of EM radiation in order of increasing frequency: infrared, X-rays, ultraviolet, visible, gamma.
  2. Calculate the frequency of an EM wave with a wavelength of 400 nm.
  3. Give an example of the use of each type of EM radiation, i.e. gamma rays, X-rays, ultraviolet light, visible light, infrared, microwave and radio and TV waves.

The particle nature of electromagnetic radiation

When we talk of electromagnetic radiation as a particle, we refer to photons, which are packets of energy. The energy of the photon is related to the wavelength of electromagnetic radiation according to:

Planck's constant

Planck's constant is a physical constant named after Max Planck.

h = 6 , 626 × 10 - 34 J · s

The energy of a photon can be calculated using the formula: E = h f or E = h c λ . Where E is the energy of the photon in joules (J), h is planck's constant, c is the speed of light, f is the frequency in hertz (Hz) and λ is the wavelength in metres (m).

Calculate the energy of a photon with a frequency of 3 × 10 18  Hz

  1. E = h f = 6 , 6 × 10 - 34 × 3 × 10 18 = 2 × 10 - 15 J
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What is the energy of an ultraviolet photon with a wavelength of 200 nm?

  1. We are required to calculate the energy associated with a photon of ultraviolet light with a wavelength of 200 nm.

    We can use:

    E = h c λ
  2. E = h c λ = ( 6 , 626 × 10 - 34 ) 3 × 10 8 200 × 10 - 9 = 9 , 939 × 10 - 10 J
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Exercise - particle nature of em waves

  1. How is the energy of a photon related to its frequency and wavelength?
  2. Calculate the energy of a photon of EM radiation with a frequency of 10 12  Hz.
  3. Determine the energy of a photon of EM radiation with a wavelength of 600 nm.

Questions & Answers

an object will remain at rest or move at a constant velocity unless acted upon a net force
Lebogang Reply
thank you
Thabiso
law of inertia
Joan
an object resisting the change in velocity.
Thabiso
What is a molecule
Thabiso Reply
a molecule is a simplest structure unite of an elements
Else
thank you
Thabiso
Plz remind me the 1st Newton's law
Thabiso
Define the term functinal group of an organic compound
Kamvelihle Reply
a single atom or a group of atoms which is responsible for the property and function of an organic compound
Shandre
thanks😊
Kamvelihle
What's the relationship between intensity and the current?
Lufuno Reply
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Rolamf
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Rolamf
The intensity doesn't effect the current.
Mosa
what does the word emitted mean?
Mwinga Reply
to be ejected or released
Khathutshelo
Ok thanks
Mwinga
Released
Mosa
what are the hooke laws
Tyriek Reply
what's that
Mosa
what do really asked in exam
Leiyo Reply
questions
Kamvelihle
lmaooo
itsssjust
hi please help me how to balance redox reactions?
Brian Reply
Which equation do u wanna balance
Rifumo
i tried to write it but my phone just can't write it Cr2 O72-(aq) + H2S (aq) Cr3 (aq) + S(s)
Brian
show is the equation
Pride
us
Pride
hello. what is the difference between a primary, secondary and tertiary alcohol
Thokozani Reply
primary the C=bonded to 1 Carbon atom.... secondary=bonded to 2 carbon atoms tertiary=bonded to 3 carbon atoms
Christina
I hope you're answered
Christina
thanks Christina
Baningi
My pleasure
Christina
Thank you Christina. This is very helpful 😀👍👍💯
Thokozani
💯💯
Thokozani
Anytime Thokozani
Christina
How to calculate pH?
Thabo
thank you guys i didn't know about the primary, secondary and tertiary alcohols
Brian
thank you Christina
Brian
Hey guys which topic does AC nd DC generator falls
Phumelele
electrodynamics
Christina
thank you
Phumelele
can somebody help me with functional isomers
Baningi Reply
function isomer has the same molecular formula but different functional group
Thokozani
what's momentum
Luvelo Reply
the product of an objects mass times velocity. it is mainly prevalent in collisions.
tyrique
momentum
Sesethu
in order to produce an interference pattern, the waves used must be what?
Methane contains C and H. This compound is
Juan Reply
ketones's functional group
Moloi Reply
Why does the carboxyl group have acidc properties?
Evi Reply
carboxylic acids
tyrique
Besides improving appearance what is another reason why medal is electro plated
Elizabeth Reply
it is made of metal
Reunity
thanks
Elizabeth
what is different between Dependent variable and independent variables
Elizabeth
difference between A.c and D.c
Gerrard
AC has slip rings DC has split rings commutator
Mohludi
to avoid rust and to improve strength and conductivity
Shubham
the variable whose value doesn't depend on other is known as independent variable ex time
Shubham

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Source:  OpenStax, Siyavula textbooks: grade 12 physical science. OpenStax CNX. Aug 03, 2011 Download for free at http://cnx.org/content/col11244/1.2
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