# Wavelength Frequency & Energy Compared

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This diagram of the electromagnetic spectrum shows how wavelength, frequency and energy are related to one another.

• The diagram shows that the electromagnetic spectrum can be described as bands of electromagnetic radiation. Radio waves which have the longest wavelengths and the lowest frequency appear at the top of the diagram whilst gamma rays which have the shortest wavelengths but the highest frequencies appear at the bottom.
• A magnified view of the visible spectrum is shown on the left of the diagram. It forms a very small band of wavelengths, frequencies and energies within the electromagnetic spectrum as a whole.
• Compare wavelength, frequency and energy by reading across the three columns.
• For example, notice that in the wavelength column, the boundary between microwaves and radio waves is around 10 cm (centimetres). The corresponding value in the frequency column is 3GHz (gigahertz) and the energy column shows the energy carried by these waves as being between 1.24 µeV (micro electron volts) and 1.24 MeV (megaelectron volt).

Notice that:

• There are arrows in each column that show the longest wavelength in the wavelength column is at the top whilst the highest frequency and highest energies are at the bottom of their respective columns.
• The standard units in the three columns are metres, hertz and electronvolts, but metric prefixes are used to cope with the huge differences of scale from the top to the bottom of each column.
• Wavelength is inversely proportional to frequency and energy, so the arrow in the wavelength column faces in the opposite direction to the other two.
• Frequency and energy are directionally proportional so the arrows in those two columns face in the same direction.
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## Description

#### Wavelength, Frequency & Energy Compared

###### TRY SOME QUICK QUESTIONS AND ANSWERS TO GET STARTED
Yes! As the frequency of oscillations of an electromagnetic wave increase the wavelength decreases.
Shorter wavelengths = Higher frequency.
The frequency of a wave is a measurement of the number of waves passing a given point in a given period of time!
The hertz is used to measure the frequency of electromagnetic waves. Different prefixes denoting subdivisions are used to aid measurement eg. kilohertz (1,000 cycles/sec), megahertz ( 1,000,000 cycles/sec), gigahertz (1,000,000,000 cycles/sec) and terahertz (1,000,000,000,000 cycles/sec).

• This diagram of the electromagnetic spectrum shows how wavelength, frequency and energy are related to one another.
• The diagram shows that the electromagnetic spectrum can be described as bands of electromagnetic radiation. Radio waves which have the longest wavelengths and the lowest frequency appear at the top of the diagram whilst gamma rays which have the shortest wavelengths but the highest frequencies appear at the bottom.
• A magnified view of the visible spectrum is shown on the left of the diagram. It forms a very small band of wavelengths, frequencies and energies within the electromagnetic spectrum as a whole.
• Compare wavelength, frequency and energy by reading across the three columns.
• For example, notice that in the wavelength column, the boundary between microwaves and radio waves is around 10 cm (centimetres). The corresponding value in the frequency column is 3GHz (gigahertz) and the energy column shows the energy carried by these waves as being between 1.24 µeV (microelectron volts) and 1.24 MeV (megaelectron volt).
###### Notice that:
• There are arrows in each column that show the longest wavelength in the wavelength column is at the top whilst the highest frequency and highest energies are at the bottom of their respective columns.
• The standard units in the three columns are metres, hertz and electronvolts, but metric prefixes are used to cope with the huge differences of scale from the top to the bottom of each column.
• Wavelength is inversely proportional to frequency and energy, so the arrow in the wavelength column faces in the opposite direction to the other two.
• Frequency and energy are directionally proportional so the arrows in those two columns face in the same direction.
• The relationship between wavelength, frequency and energy means that:
• As the wavelength of an electromagnetic wave get shorter its frequency increases, and as the wavelength gets longer its frequency decreases.
• As the wavelength of an electromagnetic wave get shorter and its frequency increases and the amount of energy it transports becomes greater.
• As the energy transported by an electromagnetic wave increases so does its frequency whilst its wavelength gets shorter.

#### Some key terms

Energy is a property of matter.

• Everything contains energy including all forms of matter and so all objects.
• Energy is evident in all forms of movement, interactions between, and changes to the forms and properties of matter.
• At an atomic level, energy is evident in the movement of electrons around the nucleus of an atom. Energy is stored in the nucleus of atoms as a result of the forces that bind protons and neutrons together.
• Energy can be transferred between objects, and converted from one form to another, but cannot be created or destroyed.
• Everything in the universe uses energy in one form or another.
• When it comes down to it, matter is energy.
• Light has energy but no mass so does not occupy space and has no volume.
• Energy is often described as either being potential energy or kinetic energy.
• Energy is measured in joules.

Wavelength is a measurement from any point on the path of a wave to the same point on its next oscillation. The measurement is made parallel to the centre-line of the wave.

An electronvolt is a unit of energy commonly used to measure the energy carried by electromagnetic radiation.

• Electronvolts can be used for measurements at the scale of elementary particles as small as single photons, the quantum of the electromagnetic field.
• One electronvolt is the amount of energy that a single electron has when it is accelerated by a potential difference of 1 volt.
• If there is a difference in voltage of 1 volt between two points in an electrical circuit (within a capacitor for example) then the force required (and the energy gained) by a photon accelerating from one point to the other is 1 electronvolt.

A nanometre is a unit of measurement of the wavelength of electromagnetic radiation.

The frequency of electromagnetic radiation (light) refers to the number of wave-cycles of an electromagnetic wave that pass a given point in a given amount of time.

The hertz (symbol: Hz) is a unit used to measure the frequency of electromagnetic waves.

• 1 Hertz (Hz) = 1 cycle per second
• 1 Kilohertz (kHz) = 1,000 (thousand) cycles per second
• 1 Megahertz (MHz) = 1,000,000 (million) cycles per second
• 1 Gigahertz (GHz) = 1,000,000,000 (billion) cycles per second
• 1 Terahertz (THz) = 1,000,000,000,000 (trillion )cycles per second

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