Spectroscopy - Properties of Light

Properties of Light


Light is actually a form of electromagnetic radiation. Electromagnetic radiation can be thought of as a wave having both magnetic and electrical components. A wave can be described by its various characteristics.

crests and troughs the high and low points of a wave, respectively

speed how fast a wave moves in a given direction
the speed of light in a vacuum (c) is 3 x 108 m/s

wavelength () the distance between two consecutive crests or troughs
review the appropriate metric prefixes

frequency (v) the number of waves that pass a given point in a given time period
the unit for frequency is hertz (sec-1)
for light waves c = v *

amplitude the "height" of a wave

energy (E) the energy of one photon of light
E = h * v (where h is Planck's constant = 6.626 x 10-34 J.s)

Continue on to read about the electromagnetic spectrum.

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