Related topics: light

Examining the heart of Webb: The final phase of commissioning

NASA's James Webb Space Telescope is now experiencing all seasons—from hot to cold—as it undergoes the thermal stability test. Meanwhile, activities are underway for the final phase of commissioning: digging into the ...

Metamaterial significantly enhances chiral nanoparticle signals

The left hand looks like the right hand in the mirror but the left-handed glove does not fit on the right hand. Chirality refers to this property where the object cannot be superimposed on to the mirror image. This property ...

Comet 2014 UN271 the largest ever observed

A team of researchers with the Paris observatory and Instituto de Astrofísica de Andalucía-CSIC, has confirmed that comet 2014 UN271 is the largest comet ever observed. They published a paper describing their findings on ...

Engineers bend light to enhance wavelength conversion

Electrical engineers from the UCLA Samueli School of Engineering have developed a more efficient way of converting light from one wavelength to another, opening the door for improvements in the performance of imaging, sensing ...

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In physics, the wavelength of a sinusoidal wave is the spatial period of the wave – the distance over which the wave's shape repeats. It is usually determined by considering the distance between consecutive corresponding points of the same phase, such as crests, troughs, or zero crossings, and is a characteristic of both traveling waves and standing waves. Wavelength is commonly designated by the Greek letter lambda (λ). The concept can also be applied to periodic waves of non-sinusoidal shape. The term wavelength is also sometimes applied to modulated waves, and to the sinusoidal envelopes of modulated waves or waves formed by interference of several sinusoids.

Assuming a sinusoidal wave moving at a fixed wave speed, wavelength is inversely proportional to frequency: waves with higher frequencies have shorter wavelengths, and lower frequencies have longer wavelengths.

Examples of wave-like phenomena are sound waves, light, and water waves. A sound wave is a periodic variation in air pressure, while in light and other electromagnetic radiation the strength of the electric and the magnetic field vary. Water waves are periodic variations in the height of a body of water. In a crystal lattice vibration, atomic positions vary periodically in both lattice position and time.

Wavelength is a measure of the distance between repetitions of a shape feature such as peaks, valleys, or zero-crossings, not a measure of how far any given particle moves. For example, in waves over deep water a particle in the water moves in a circle of the same diameter as the wave height, unrelated to wavelength.

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