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Key People:James clerk MaxwellChristiaan HuygensThomas YoungHendrik Antoon LorentzFrançois Arago...(Show more)Related Topics:lightluminescenceX-rayphotoelectric effectgamma ray...(Show more)

electromagnetic radiation, in timeless physics, the flow of energy at the universal speed of irradiate through free space or with a product medium in the type of the electric and magnetic fields that comprise electromagnetic tide such as radio waves, clearly shows light, and also gamma rays. In such a wave, time-varying electric and magnetic fields are mutually connected with each various other at best angles and perpendicular to the direction the motion. One electromagnetic wave is identified by the intensity and the frequency ν of the moment variation of the electric and magnetic fields.

In terms of the contemporary quantum theory, electromagnetic radiation is the circulation of photons (also called light quanta) v space. Photons space packets of power hν that constantly move v the universal speed of light. The prize h is Planck’s constant, if the worth of ν is the exact same as the of the frequency the the electromagnetic tide of classical theory. Photons having actually the same power hν room all alike, and also their number density synchronizes to the intensity of the radiation. Electromagnetic radiation exhibits a multitude of phenomena as it interacts v charged particles in atoms, molecules, and also larger objects the matter. These phenomena as well as the ways in which electromagnetic radiation is created and also observed, the manner in which such radiation wake up in nature, and its technological uses count on the frequency ν. The spectrum the frequencies the electromagnetic radiation expand from very low values over the variety of radio waves, television waves, and also microwaves to visible light and beyond come the substantially higher values of ultraviolet light, X-rays, and also gamma rays.


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The an easy properties and also behaviour that electromagnetic radiation are discussed in this article, as room its various forms, consisting of their sources, separating characteristics, and practical applications. The article likewise traces the advance of both the classical and quantum theory of radiation.

General considerations

Occurrence and importance

Close to 0.01 percent the the mass/energy of the whole universe occurs in the form of electromagnetic radiation. All human being life is immersed in it, and modern-day communications technology and medical services are particularly dependent ~ above one or one more of that is forms. In fact, every living things on earth depend ~ above the electromagnetic radiation received from the Sun and on the transformation of solar energy by photosynthesis right into plant life or by biosynthesis right into zooplankton, the simple step in the food chain in oceans. The eye of many animals, consisting of those of humans, are adjusted to be perceptible to and hence to view the many abundant component of the Sun’s electromagnetic radiation—namely, light, which comprises the visible portion of its wide selection of frequencies. Environment-friendly plants additionally have high sensitivity come the maximum intensity the solar electromagnetic radiation, i m sorry is soaked up by a substance referred to as chlorophyll the is important for plant expansion via photosynthesis.


Practically all the fuel that contemporary society uses—gas, oil, and also coal—are stored forms of power received from the sun as electromagnetic radiation millions of years ago. Only the energy from atom reactors does no originate native the Sun.

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Everyday life is pervaded through artificially make electromagnetic radiation: food is heated in microwave ovens, airplanes room guided by radar waves, television sets get electromagnetic waves transmitted by broadcast stations, and also infrared waves from heaters administer warmth. Infrared waves additionally are given off and also received by automatically self-focusing cameras the electronically measure and set the correct distance to the object to it is in photographed. As soon as the sunlight sets, incandescence or fluorescent lights room turned top top to provide artificial illumination, and also cities glow brightly v the colourful fluorescent and also neon lamps of advertising signs. Familiar too is ultraviolet radiation, i m sorry the eyes cannot see however whose effect is felt as pain from sunburn. Ultraviolet irradiate represents a kind of electromagnetic radiation that deserve to be harmful come life. Together is likewise true the X-rays, i m sorry are crucial in medication as they allow physicians to watch the inner parts of the body but exposure to which should be retained to a minimum. Less acquainted are gamma rays, i beg your pardon come from atom reactions and also radioactive decay and also are part of the harmful high-energy radiation of radiation materials and also nuclear weapons.