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Characteristics of Light. Chapter 14 Section 1. Light. Most people think of light as only being admitted from a light bulb or the sun in the form of white light. White light is the combination of multiple colors of light combined into one. Visible Light Spectrum. R ed O range Y ellow

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characteristics of light

Characteristics of Light

Chapter 14 Section 1

  • Most people think of light as only being admitted from a light bulb or the sun in the form of white light.
  • White light is the combination of multiple colors of light combined into one.
visible light spectrum
Visible Light Spectrum
  • Red
  • Orange
  • Yellow
  • Green
  • Blue
  • Indigo
  • Violet
  • A Prism can be used to separate white light into the colors of the visible light spectrum.
particle or wave
Particle or wave?
  • Light can be described as a particle, as a wave, and even as a combination of the two.
  • Wave model is best suited for introductory discussion of light.
light spectrum
Light Spectrum
  • The spectrum of light is not confined to just visible light.
  • There are many variations of light:
    • Radio waves
    • Microwaves
    • Infrared (IR) Waves
    • Visible Light
    • Ultraviolet (UV) Light
    • X Rays
    • Gamma Rays
electromagnetic spectrum
Electromagnetic Spectrum
  • All of the different kinds of light are examples of electromagnetic waves.
  • Electromagnetic Waves – A transverse wave consisting of oscillating electric and magnetic fields at right angles to each other.
transverse waves vs longitudinal waves
Transverse Waves vs. Longitudinal Waves
  • Transverse waves oscillate perpendicular to the direction of the wave propagation.
    • Light Waves
  • Longitudinal waves oscillate parallel to the direction of the wave propagation.
    • Sound Waves


  • Transverse and Longitudinal Wave Animation
electromagnetic waves
Electromagnetic Waves
  • Light is composed of electric and magnetic waves.
  • They are perpendicular to the direction they move.
  • They are transverse waves.
  • The electric and magnetic fields are at right angles to each other
wave differences
Wave Differences
  • Electromagnetic waves are distinguished by their difference in frequencies and wavelengths.
  • They account for the color changes in visible light and distinguishes visible light from invisible electromagnetic radiation, such as X Rays.
speed of light
Speed of Light
  • All forms of electromagnetic radiation travel at a single high speed in a vacuum.
  • The speed of light in a vacuum was found to be 2.99792458x108 m/s
  • c = 3.00x108 m/s (speed of light)
wave speed equation
Wave Speed Equation

c = fλ

Speed of Light = frequency x wavelength

  • Speed of Light (c) – Units are in (m/s)
  • Frequency (f) – Units are in (Hz)
  • Wavelength (λ) – Units are in (m)
example problem
Example Problem
  • What is the wavelength of infrared light with a frequency of 3.0x1012 Hz?
example problem answer
Example Problem Answer
  • λ = 1.0x10-4 m
huygens principle
Huygens\' Principle
  • The wave nature of light can be treated as a ray.
  • Treating the propagating wave of light as a straight line perpendicular to the wave front.
brightness of light
Brightness of Light
  • The brightness of light depends on:
    • How much light is being emitted from the source.
    • Distance away from the source.
brightness and distance
Brightness and Distance
  • Apparent brightness is proportional to the actual brightness of the source divided by the square of the distance between source and observer.

Lv = L/d2

Apparent Brightness = Actual Brightness ÷ distance2

  • Brightness – Units (cd) “candela”