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Electromagnetic waves 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 magnetic fields, and these travel at the speed…show more content…
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 that for an electromagnetic wave, the energy associated with the electric field is equal to the energy associated with the magnetic field, so the energy density can be written in terms of just one or the other: This also implies that in an electromagnetic wave, E = cB. A more common way to handle the energy is to look at how much energy is carried by the wave from one place to another. A good measure of this is the intensity of the wave, which is the power that passes perpendicularly through an area divided by the area. The intensity, S, and the energy density are related by a factor of c: Generally, it's most useful to use the average power, or average

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