Friday, February 8, 2019

Physical Properties of Waves


In physics, a wave is defined as a disturbance that is created to transfer energy through matter with little or no mass transfer. These can be in the form of vibrations or oscillations. There are few physical properties exhibited by the waves and they are absorption, reflection, refraction, diffraction, dispersion, polarisation and interference.

Waves can be in the form of light waves, sound waves and water waves. 

Following are the physical properties of waves:

● Refraction of light: Refraction is defined as the change in the direction of a wave passing from one medium to another. Refraction of light is one of the common examples. Snell’s law explains refraction of light and it states that the ratio of sines of the angle of incidence and angle of refraction is equal to the ratio of phase velocities of two media which is equal to indices of refraction of two media. 

● Reflection of light: Reflection is defined as a change in direction of a wave at an interface between two different media such that the wave returns to the media from where it originated. Laws of reflection is defined by reflecting surface and reflection of light as follows:
  • The incident ray, the reflected ray and the normal to the reflection surface at the point of incidence lie in the same plane.
  • The angle between incident ray and normal is equal to the angle between the reflected ray and the same normal.
  • The reflected ray and the incident ray are on the opposite sides of the normal. 


●Absorption: Any wave that strikes the matter, the wave is absorbed by the matter. It finds application in soundproofing, noise barrier walls, loudspeaker design etc.

● Diffraction: Diffraction is defined as bending of waves when it encounters an obstacle. Diffraction can be seen in the atmosphere by small particles which can cause bright rings around bright light sources like the sun or the moon.

● Polarisation: Polarisation is a property of transverse waves such that the direction of oscillation of transverse wave is perpendicular to the direction of motion of the wave.

● Dispersion: Dispersion is defined as the phenomenon of a wave such that phase velocity of the wave depends on its frequency.

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