Wavelength & the EM Spectrum

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Wavelength & the EM Spectrum

TRY SOME QUICK QUESTIONS AND ANSWERS TO GET STARTED
Gamma rays transport more energy than any other band of wavelengths within the electromagnetic spectrum.
Yes! The wavelengths of colours in the visible spectrum are measured in nanometres.
The unit used to measure wavelength is the metre. Because the size of electromagnetic waves varies, different prefixes are used to aid measurement. Here are six examples: kilometre, centimetre, millimetre, micrometre, nanometre and picometre.

About the diagram

About the diagram
Notice that:
  • Wavelengths range from low energy radio waves through visible light to high energy gamma rays.
  • Waves with longer wavelengths have a lower frequency and carry less energy.
  • Waves with shorter wavelengths have a higher frequency and carry more energy.
Remember that:
  • The electromagnetic spectrum includes, in order of increasing frequency and decreasing wavelength: radio waves, microwaves, infrared radiation, visible light, ultraviolet radiation, X-rays and gamma rays.
  • There are no precisely defined boundaries between the bands of electromagnetic radiation in the electromagnetic spectrum.
  • Visible light is only a very small part of the electromagnetic spectrum.
  • Energy (electromagnetic energy) is the radiant energy (light) transported by electromagnetic waves.
  • The term light can be used in three different ways:
    • Light can be used to mean the whole of the electromagnetic spectrum from radio waves, through visible light to gamma rays. A better term is radiant energy or photon energy.
    • Light can be used to mean the range of wavelengths and frequencies that can be detected by the human eye. A better term is visible light which refers to the wavelengths that correspond with the colours between red and violet, the visible spectrum.
    • Light can be used to mean the range of wavelengths and frequencies between infra-red and ultra-violet. This usage is useful because the outer limits of the visible spectrum change under different lighting conditions and for different individuals.
  • Referring to visible light simply as light is short-hand.
  • Visible light is not the same for all living things.

Some key terms

Frequency

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

Wavelength

Wavelength is a measurement from any point on the path of a wave to the same point on its next ...

Energy

Energy is a property of matter. Everything contains energy including all forms of matter and so all objects. Energy is ...

Visible spectrum

The visible part of the electromagnetic spectrum is called the visible spectrum. The visible spectrum is the range of wavelengths ...

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