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Introduction to Waves

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Definition of wave A periodic disturbance which travels through a medium from one point in space to the others. Wave motion means the propagation of waves through a medium. Wave motion appears in almost every branch of Physics.

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**Basic properties of waves :**

Energy is transferred from one place to another in a wave motion. Motion of the medium (particles of the medium) is usually periodically vibratory. Only the shape or form of wave travels, not the medium.

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**TYPES OF WAVES Waves are classified into different types according to their nature:**

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Mechanical Waves A material medium is necessary for the transmission for mechanical waves. Mechanical waves cannot travel through vacuum. A disturbance is transmitted from one layer to the next through the medium. Examples: Water waves, sound, vibration of spring, etc.

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**Transverse Waves (Mechanical)**

The waveform appears in the shape of sine curve. A wave in which the motions of the matter particles are perpendicular to the direction of propagation of the wave itself. Examples: Water waves, pulse in a stretched string.

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**Longitudinal Waves (Mechanical)**

When energy travels through a medium (matter), matter is compressed in the forward direction. Examples: Sound, or a spring oscillating up and down.

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**Electromagnetic Waves**

Can travel through vacuum or a medium Disturbance of electric and magnetic fields travelling through space. All electromagnetic waves are transverse waves. X-rays, radio waves, micro-waves,visible light, etc.

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**The amplitude is the maximum displacement of the medium from its equilibrium position.**

The wavelength () is the minimum distance between two points which are in phase. The frequency (ƒ) is the number of complete oscillations made in one second Unit: Hertz (Hz) The period (T) is the time taken for one complete oscillation. It is related to frequency by T = 1/ƒ Unit: seconds

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The Wave Equation The wave velocity is the distance traveled by the wave in one second …….... The wave velocity (v) is related to frequency and wavelength. v = ƒ

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**Using the Wave Equation Example :**

A travelling wave of wavelength 0.6m moves at a speed of 3.0 m/s. What is the period of this wave ? Now you know = 0.6 m, v = 3.0 m/s Can you find the frequency of this wave…… By using the wave equation, v = ƒ = ƒ(0.6) i.e ƒ = 5.0 Hz The answer is… Then the period of this wave is ??? Period T = 1/ƒ T = 1/5.0 or 0.2 s

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**Common Characteristics of Waves**

Transmission of energy Reflection Refraction Diffraction Interference

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**Let’s take water waves as an example to study the characteristics of waves….**

The behavior of water waves demonstrates all these characteristics…….. characteristics Water Waves

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Reflection of Waves A travelling wave is reflected when it hits a barrier. This phenomenon can easily be observed when a travelling water wave hits a reflector in the ripple tank. Reflector Reflected waves

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Refraction of Waves - The speed of a water wave increases with depth. This change in speed is accompanied by refraction. This effect is a consequence of the wave equation, v = ƒ. Since ƒ is constant, a decrease in v produces a decrease in .

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Diffraction of Waves When a travelling water wave hits an obstacle, the wavefront spreads out round the edge and becomes curved. This phenomenon refers to diffraction. The wavelength of the wave is not changed in diffraction.

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**= Interference of Waves**

When two or more waves propagating in the same medium meet at the same point, interference is said to occur. A stable interference pattern can be observed when two water waves of same frequency meet one another in a ripple tank. =

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