25th February 2021

Waves – Fundamental Of Science

We have heard various types of waves like waves in water, sound waves, light waves and many more. Waves are the essential chunk in communication and feature various differential characteristics. Microwaves are used for heating and cooking purposes. Wave is defined as the dynamic disturbance which travels from one place to another. In this article, let us know in detail about the types of waves.

Classification of Waves

Based on the characteristics, waves are classified as mechanical waves, electromagnetic waves. Based on the direction in which the wave propagates, it is classified as transverse waves and longitudinal waves.

Mechanical Waves 

Mechanical waves require medium to travel. These waves transfer the momentum, energy and information but fail to transfer the particles present in the medium. When one molecule present in the medium collides with another, energy is transferred.  The best example of a mechanical wave is the sound wave and seismic waves. We can note that sound can travel in mediums like air and water, but it cannot travel in a vacuum.

Electromagnetic Waves

Electromagnetic waves have the capacity to travel in empty space like a vacuum and do not depend on the medium for the propagation. X-rays, gamma rays, microwaves and radio waves are the best example for Electromagnetic waves. Depending on the wavelengths these waves are used for various purposes. According to Maxwell’s equation, energy is interchanged between the electric and magnetic fields, which results in the propagation of a wave containing these fields. Light waves are a type of electromagnetic waves, which are produced due to the vibration of electric charges, and these waves travel through the vacuum. Polarization of electromagnetic waves takes place in the direction in which the electric field is present. In linear polarization, the fields oscillate in one particular direction. Whereas the fields rotate at a constant rate in a plane as the wave travels in circular polarization.

Sun rays, light from incandescent lamps, flames which are the form of electromagnetic radiations feature short waves with an equal mixture of polarizations, these are referred to as unpolarized light. When an unpolarized light is passed through an optical filter like a polarizer, polarised light can be obtained. 

Transverse Waves

It is the wave where the disturbance travels perpendicular to the wave. In other words, we can say that the displacements of the medium are at right angles to the direction of propagation. Transverse waves are also known as shear waves. Polarisation is the process applied to traverse waves to obtain the geometrical orientation of the oscillations. Example of a polarized transverse wave is vibrations travelling along a taut string of the musical instrument.

Longitudinal Waves

In longitudinal waves, the disturbance moves in the same direction as the wave. The sound wave is the ideal example of longitudinal waves. One example of this is a wave moving through a stretched out slinky or spring. When the spring is compressed, the wave will move left to right. The distance between the coils increases and decreases when the spring is stretched and compressed. 

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