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Progressive wave (moving) carry energy &does not transfer material.

Wave caused by something making particles or fields oscillate at source. The oscillations pass
through medium as wave travels and carries energy. Wave transfers energy away from source so
source of wave loses energy.

We know waves carry energy because:

- Electromagnetic waves cause things to heat up

- X-rays and gamma knock e- out of orbits causing ionisation
- Loud sounds cause large oscillations of air
- Wave power can be used to generate electricity

Reflection – wave bounced back when hits boundary

Refraction – Wave changes direction as enters different medium. Change in direction is result of
wave slowing down or speeding up

Diffraction – wave spreads out as passes through gap or round obstacle.

Measuring Waves

Displacement, x – measure in meters. How far a point on wave has moved from its
undisturbed position.
Amplitude, A – measured in meters. Maximum magnitude of displacement,

Wavelength, - measured in meters. Length of one whole wave oscillation or wave cycle

Period, T – measured in seconds. Time taken for oe whole wave cycle.

Frequency, f – number of whole wave cycles per second passing through a given point. Or
No. of whole wave cycles given out from a source per second.
Phase – measurement of position of certain point along wave cycle.
Phase Difference – amount by which one wave lags behind other
Frequency (Hz, s-1) and Period (time in s)

Wave Speed

- Distance travelled is WL
- Time taken to travel 1 WL is period of wave which is equal to 𝑓
Electromagnetic Wave Speed in a Vacuum

C = 3.00 x 108 ms-1

Measuring Speed of Sound

Measuring Wave Speed in Water

1) Record depth of tank with ruler

2) Use ripple tank dipper to create vibrations with regular freq. in tank
3) Dim main lights and turn on strobe light
4) Inc. freq. of strobe light from 0 until waves appear to be standing still, this is when freq.
strobe light is equal to freq. of water waves
5) Use ruler and white paper below tank to measure distance between several peaks and
dividing this by no. troughs in between. Distance between 2 adjacent peaks is equal to
Transverse and Longitudinal

Transverse – the displacement of particles or field is at right angles to direction of energy

propagation. All electromagnetic waves are transverse. Travel as vibrations through magnetic and
electric fields with vibrations perpendicular to direction of energy transfer.

Longitudinal – displacement of particles or fields is along direction of energy propagation. Example:


Sound waves have alternate compressions and rarefactions of the medium it travels through. Some
type of earth quake shockwaves are also longitudinal (p-waves).
Polarised Waves

Shaking rope by moving hand up and down or side to side or in mixture directions it makes
transverse waves but if try to pass rope through vertical fencing the wave will only get through if
vibrations are vertical. Fence filters out vibrations in other directions. This is a polarised wave.

Polarised wave – only oscillates in one direction.

Light waves are mixture of directions. Polarised filter can polarise light waves and other waves. Only
transmits vibrations in 1 direction.

If 2 polarised filters at right angles to reach other than no light passes through. The 2nd filter blocks
out all light when transmission axis at right angle to plane of polarisation. Otherwise it’ll just reduce

Only happens in transverse waves which provides evidence for their nature.

Uses of Polarisation

 Glare reduction
 Improving TV and radio signals

Superposition of Waves and Formation of Stationary Waves

Stationary Waves – superposition of 2 progressive waves with same freq., WL or amplitude moving
in opposite directions. No energy transmitted.
 At node, theres total destructive interferance
 At antinode, theres constructive interference

First Harmonic – stationary wave vibrating at its lowest possible freq.

In figure 3.6 theres one loop with node at each end. ½ WL fits onto string so WL is double length of

1 𝑇
𝑓= √
2𝑙 𝜇

Second Harmonic – twice freq. of 1st.

2 loops with node at each end and middle, two ½ WL fit on string so WL = length of string.

Third Harmonic – 3x freq. of1st, 1 1/2 WL fit n string