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Electromagnetic waves
- Are made by vibrating electric
charges and can travel through
space by transferring energy
between vibrating electric and
magnetic fields.
- cover an extremely broad spectrum
of wavelength and frequency called
electromagnetic spectrum.
Characteristics of EM

1. wavelength (): distance between equivalent

2. Amplitude: “height” of wave
3. Frequency – Refers to the number of crests that
pass a fixed point per second

v = wavelength x frequency
meters x (1/sec) = m/sec
v = 
• For waves traveling at the
Higher frequency same velocity, the longer
shorter wavelength the wavelength, the
smaller the frequency.
• As frequency increases,
wavelength becomes

lower frequency
longer wavelength
Properties of EM Waves
• All matter contains charged particles
that are always moving; therefore, all
objects emit EM waves.
• The wavelengths become shorter as the
temperature of the material increases.
• EM waves carry radiant energy.
• λ = c/f where c = speed of light (3x108 m/s)
λ = wavelength (m)
f = frequency (Hz)
What is the speed of EM waves?

• All EM waves travel Material Speed

300,000 km/sec in space. (km/s)
(speed of light-nature’s Vacuum 300,000
Air <300,000
• EM waves usually travel
slowest in solids and Water 226,000
fastest in gases.
Glass 200,000
Diamond 124,000
The Electromagnetic Spectrum
The EM spectrum is subdivided into a few
discrete spectral bands.

EM radiation spans an enormous range of

frequencies; the bands shown here are
those most often used for remote sensing.

Boundaries between bands are arbitrary

and have no physical significance, except
for the visible band.

Note that the ‘visible’ band is subjective –

some insects can see ultraviolet light!

What wavelengths are associated with sunburn?

The Electromagnetic Spectrum
Visible light
Wavelengths and
frequencies of visible
light (VIS)
Atmosphere mostly transparent – optical remote
sensing techniques, surface mapping etc.
• Includes wavelength of peak
emission of radiation by the
•Cloud-free atmosphere
mostly transparent to VIS
wavelengths, so most are
absorbed at the Earth’s
Light Waves
Light – both wave and particle, it carries energy
(packaged in discrete bundles) called photons or
- Light is emitted when atoms vibrate (or oscillate)
Properties of light
1. Reflection – it is the bouncing back of light as
it hits a barrier
a. Specular(regular) reflection – when light
strikes a very smooth surface
b. Diffuse reflection – when light strikes a
rough surface
2. Refraction – it is the bending of light
as it passes from one medium to
another different medium.
- The dependence of wave speed and index of
refraction on wavelength
- Spreading of white light into different band of
colors as it enters a prism
• The dispersion of light is the phenomenon of splitting
of a beam of white light into its seven constituent
colours when passed through a transparent medium.
Newton discovered that light is made up of seven
different colours. He passed a beam of sunlight
through a glass prism. The glass prism split the light
into a band of seven colours. Thus the spectrum is a
band of seven colours which is obtained by splitting
of white light by a glass prism. The order of colours
from the lower end of spectrum is violet (V), indigo
(I), blue (B), green (G), yellow (Y), orange (O), and red
Total Internal Reflection
When light cannot pass into the upper material;
it is trapped in a lower material and is
completely reflected at the boundary surface.
This could happen only if the incident ray is
equal or greater than the critical angle.

sinӨcrit = nb / nα
Total Internal Reflection
• The angle of incidence for which the refracted
ray emerges tangent to the surface is called
the critical angle

1. Endoscope - inserted in
bronchial tubes, bladder, colon,
and so on.
2. Fiber optic
3. Diamond

- process of transforming (unpolarized) light

into polarized light
- Blocking of some light
- Filtering of light

A halo is a ring or light that forms around the

sun or moon as the sun or moon
light refracts off ice crystals present in a thin veil
of cirrus clouds. The halo is usually seen as a
bright, white ring although sometimes it can
have color.
Sundogs are colored spots of light that develop
due to the refraction of light through ice
crystals. The colors usually go from red closest
to the sun, out to blue on the outside of the
sundog. Sundogs are also known as mock suns
or parhelia, which means "with the sun".
Sun Pillars
Sun Pillars
Sun Pillars appear as a shaft of light extending
vertically above the sun, most often at sunrise
or sundown. They develop as a result of ice
crystals slowly falling through the
air, reflecting the sun’s rays off of them. Look for
sun pillars when the sun is low on the horizon,
and cirrus clouds are present.
Primary and Secondary Rainbow
Primary and Secondary Rainbow
A rainbow occurs when light hits the
numerous water drops in the atmosphere at a
certain angle.
A secondary rainbow is different from a
primary rainbow only in that it is formed by
secondary reflection of light within raindrops. It
is formed when the incident light undergoes two
internal reflections in a spherical drop of water.
When a solar storm comes toward us, some
of the energy and small particles can travel down
the magnetic field lines at the north and south
poles into Earth’s atmosphere. There, the particles
interact with gases in our atmosphere resulting in
beautiful displays of light in the sky. Oxygen gives
off green and red light. Nitrogen glows blue and
Auroras are the result of collisions between
gaseous particles (in the Earth’s atmosphere) with
charged particles (released from the sun’s