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Electromagnetic Radiation (EMR) by Mind Map: Electromagnetic Radiation (EMR)
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Electromagnetic Radiation (EMR)

Accelerating Charges

Produce electromagnetic waves



Stars and gases in space emit radio waves along with the radio waves that radio stations use to emit music. It is a low frequency (10^4-10^9 Hz) and long wave (10^0-10^5m).


Microwave radiation is used to cook your food in a microwave and astronomers use it in space.  Microwaves have a wave frequency of 10^9-10^11Hz and a wavelength of 10^0-10^-3m.


Infrared light is emitted by our skin and allows us to be seen in the dark by someone wearing night vision goggles.Infrared light has a wave frequency of 10^11-10^15Hz and wavelength of 10^-6-10^-3m.


Visible light is light which we can see and is emitted by just about everything.  The sun is a natural source for visible light rays and our eyes see the reflection off the sunlight on the object which surround us.  The wave frequency for visible light is 10^15 Hz and the wavelength is 10^-7m. Visible light can also be divided into red, orange, yellow, green, blue, and violet light.


The sun is a source of ultraviolet radiation which burns our skin and can cause skin cancer.  Stars also emit ultraviolet radiation.  UV light has a wave frequency of about 10^15-10^17Hz and a wavelength of about 10^-8-10^-7 m.


X-rays are used by doctors and dentists to look at bones and teeth.  X-rays have a wave frequency of about 10^17-10^20Hz and a wavelength of 10^-11-10^-8.


The biggest gamma ray emitter is the universe. Gamma rays are also generated by radio active atoms and nuclear explosions.  Gamma rays can be used to kill living cells, which is an advantage for killing cancerous cells. Gamma rays have the biggest wave frequency (10^19-10^23 Hz) but  the smallest wavelength (10^-15-10^-11m) compared to the other waves in the EMR spectrum. It also has the highest energy.

Wave vs Particle

Wave: As a wave, electromagnetic radiation is characterized by velocity, wavelength, and frequency. The velocity is the speed of light.

Particle: As a particle, electromagnetic radiation is characterized as a photon. Each has an energy related to the frequency of the wave. This is given by Plank's relation, E=hv

Interaction with Matter


The reflection of electromagnetic radiation is the returning of uv rays, light, radio waves,  microwaves by a surface upon which the radiation is incident.  The law of reflection states that the reflection angle equals the angle of incidence and that all the components lie in one plane.


Refraction is determined by the ratio of the refractive indices of the media which a wave crosses, this is supported by Snell's law.


Dispersion is known as the process by which white light is separated into it's component colors.  By dispersion, we see things such as rainbows.


By diffraction we see interference patterns which are created when light passes through a series of two or more slits.


Electromagnetic interference is seen as a disturbance which affects an electrical circuit due to electromagnetic radiation from an outside source.


Polarization can also be referred to as the direction of travel.  Polarization deals with the direction and amplitude relationship of the vector in relation to the direction of travel.


Absorption is the way by which the energy of a photon is taken up by matter.


Light scattering is one of the two major physical processes which contribute to the visible appearance of most objects.  The process of scattering is when forms of radiation are forced to separate from a straight trajectory by localized uniformities in the medium through which they pass.

Transparent, translucent, and opaque

When light reaches transparent materials, almost all of it passes right through them.  Examples of transparent materials are glass, water,and air.  Materials such as plastic are considered translucent. When light hits translucent materials, only some of it passes through the material. Opaque objects, such as wood, allow no light to pass through it; the light will either be reflected or absorbed.


Fluorescence refers to the emission of light by a substance which has absorbed electromagnetic radiation of a different wavelength.


Phosphorescence is related to fluorescence but it does not immidiatley re-emit the radiation it absorbs.  In phosphorescence, the light emitted by an atom persists after the exciting source is removed.


Visible light contains 6 colors: red, orange, yellow, green, blue, and violet.  It also has the color indigo, but it usually not shown on the spectrum.  Red light has the largest wavelength but the smallest wave frequency whereas violet light has the smallest wavelength and the largest wave frequency.