Radiation, Absorption

RADIATION IS ENERGY transmitted by electromagnetic waves. Electromagnetic waves travel at the speed of light (when passing through a vacuum) and have a characteristic wavelength, λ, which is inversely proportional to their frequency, v, by


where c is the speed of light. Electromagnetic radiation is conceptualized in contemporary theory both as a wave and as a stream of particles called photons (this dual approach is referred to as wave-particle duality). The energy of any photon, E, of radiation is inversely proportional to the wavelength by


where h is Planck's constant. This relationship allows us to order electromagnetic waves from high energy/short wavelength (for example, x-rays), to low energy/long wavelength (for example, radio waves). The resulting progression is referred to as the electromagnetic spectrum (Figure 1). The visible ...

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