There are experiments in which the wave and particle natures of electromagnetic waves appear in the same experiment, such as the diffraction of a singlephoton. When a single photon is sent through two slits, it passes through both of them interfering with itself, as waves do, yet is detected by aphotomultiplieror other sensitive detector only once. Similar self-interference is observed when a single photon is sent into aMichelson interferometer
 Wave model
White light beingseparatedinto its components.An important aspect of the nature of light isfrequency. The frequency of a wave is its rate of oscillation and is measured inhertz, theSIunit of
frequency, where one hertz is equal to one oscillation persecond. Light usually has a spectrum of frequencies which sum together to form the resultantwave. Different frequencies undergo different angles of refraction.A wave consists of successive troughs and crests, and the distance between two adjacent crests or troughs is called thewavelength. Waves of theelectromagnetic spectrum vary in size, from very long radio waves the size of buildings to very short gamma rays smaller than atom nuclei. Frequency isinversely proportional to wavelength, according to the equation:where
is the speed of the wave (
in a vacuum, or less in other media),
is the frequency and
is the wavelength. As waves cross boundaries betweendifferent media, their speeds change but their frequencies remain constant.Interferenceis the superposition of two or more waves resulting in a new wave pattern. If the ﬁelds have components in the same direction, theyconstructively interfere, while opposite directions cause destructive interference.The energy in electromagnetic waves is sometimes calledradiant energy.
 Particle model
See also:Quantization (physics)
andQuantum opticsElectromagnetic radiation has particle-like properties as discrete packets of energy, orquanta, calledphotons.
The frequency of the wave isproportional to the particle's energy. Because photons are emitted and absorbed by charged particles, they act as transporters of energy. The energy perphotoncan be calculated from thePlanck–Einstein equation:
is the energy,
isPlanck's constant, and
is frequency. This photon-energy expression is a particular case of the energy levels of the moregeneral
whose average energy, which is used to obtain Planck's radiation law, can be shown to differ sharply from that