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Chapter 4.

Vibration, Wave motion and Sound

Chapter 4
Vibration, wave motion and sound
4.1 Simple harmonic motion (SHM)
4.1.1 Equation of SHM
1. Definition of SHM
Simple harmonic force: The force on a body is proportional to its displacement from the
origin and always directed towards the origin. If we choose the direction of displacement as
the x-axis, the equation is given by
F = - k x,
the minus sign denotes that the force is a restoring
force and always points to the origin (x = 0).
SHM If a body moves in a straight line under
the simple harmonic force, the motion of the
body is called simple harmonic motion.
Fig. 4.1 vibrational motion
2. Equation of SHM
Generally a Hookes law spring satisfies the equation (4.1), but k is called spring constant. If
a bodys mass is m and it is exerted by a simple harmonic force, its equation of motion can be
obtained by using Newtons second law of motion
d 2x
F ma m 2 .
On the other hand, considering eq. (4.1), we have
d 2x
d 2x
m 2 kx
Define = k/m and we have
d 2x
2x 0


This is the differential equation of the simple harmonic motion. Its solution can be expressed
x A cos(t )
The motion described by a cosine or sine function of time is called Simple Harmonic Motion.
It is necessary to point out that the two definitions for SHM are the equivalent. One is from
the force type and the other is from the equation of motion.
Differentiating the equation (4.3) with respect to t, the velocity and acceleration of the
SHM can be obtained.


Chapter 4. Vibration, Wave motion and Sound


[ A cos(t )]
A (cos ) A
(cos )
A( sin )
A sin(t )

(set t )

d 2 x dv

A (sin )
(sin )
A (cos )
A 2 cos(t )

2 x

It can be proved that the equation (4.5) is equivalent to the equations (4.2) and (4.3).
Therefore the equation (4.3) is indeed the solution of (4.2).

4.1.2 The characteristic quantities of SHM

In the equation of SHM, A, and are constants and any individual SHM can be determined
by them.
1. A is called Amplitude ().
It is the maximum displacement of a vibrating body from equilibrium position.
2. Period and frequency
The period, denoted by T, is the time taken for a complete vibration which is
independent of the position chosen for the starting point of the complete vibration.
The frequency, denoted by f, is the number of complete vibrations per second, it is
the reciprocal () of the period



The angular frequency or angular velocity is defined as



3. Phase and initial phase ()

In the equation of SHM, t + is called the phase of SHM, where is the phase at t = 0,
called initial phase (unit radian). At t = 0, equations (4,3) and (4.4) becomes respectively
x 0 A cos


v 0 A sin

Squaring both sides of the above equations, the amplitude of the SHM can be found
x02 A 2 cos 2
v 02 2 A 2 sin 2

A 2 (cos 2 sin 2 ) A 2

m v02
A x0 2 x0

On the other hand, the initial phase can also be worked out from equation (4.8),


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so we have

arctan 0
x 0
Example 4-1. A particle with mass m = 2.00 10-2 kg is in SHM at the end of a spring with
spring constant k = 50.0 N/m. The initial displacement and velocity of the particle is 3.00
10-2 m and 1.32 m/s respectively. Calculate (1) the angular frequency; (2) the initial phase;
(3) the amplitude of the vibration; (4) the period; (5) the frequency.
Solution: In order to solve the problem, we have to be clear what things have been given in
the problem? That is the known conditions.
The quantities we know are:
m = 2.00 10-2 kg
k = 50.0 N/m
x0 = 3.00 10-2 m
v0 = 1.32 m/s
Now using the formulae we have learned, the problem can be solved easily.
(1). In order to find the angular frequency, the formula representing the relation among the
angular frequency, mass and spring constant has to be used. We have

50.0 rad / s
2.00 10 2

(2). The initial phase of the vibration can be found using the initial displacement and initial
velocity. At t = 0, we know
x0 = A cos = 3.00 10-2 m
v0 = - A w sin = -1.32 m/s
The can be obtained by solving above equations. On the other hand, it can be calculated
directly by eq. (4.10)


arctan 0 arctan
3.00 10 50.0
(3). The amplitude can be calculated by the formula

v 02
4.00 10 2 m

(4). The period can be found through the relation

between the angular frequency and the period;
A x02


0.126 s


(5). Frequency can be found as

f = 1/T = 1/0.126 = 7.94 Hz



4.1.3 The reference circle of SHM

Consider a vector A to rotate ()
around point O with a constant
angular velocity . Suppose that
its initial position is OM0 and the


Fig. 4.2 the circle of reference of SHM.


Chapter 4. Vibration, Wave motion and Sound

angle with x-axis is . At time t, the

angle between A and x-axis is t+.
When M moves in a circle motion, we
Could show that the motion of P is the same as
that of a body moving under the influence of an elastic restoring force in the absence of
friction. i.e. the projecting point P on x-axis moves in SHM.
The displacements of P at any time t is the distance OP or x; from Fig. 4.2. It is easy to
find that the equation of motion of the point P at any moment is
x = A cos ( t+).
It is the equation of SHM.
4.1.4 The energy of SHM
When particles exert a SHM, the kinetic energy and potential energy are transformed each
other based on the positions of the particle. For a spring vibrator, F = -k x, the expressions of
kinetic energy and potential energy of the system are given by
mv 2 m 2 A 2 sin 2 (t )
E p kx 2 m 2 A 2 cos 2 (t )


The total energy of the system does not change with time. Therefore, it is conservative! The
total mechanic energy of the vibrating system is conservative in the process of harmonic
motion. This result is valid to all SHM systems.
Ek E p

m 2 A 2 kA 2


4.2 Damped () harmonic motion, forced vibration and resonance ()


4.2.1 The damped harmonic motion

Real vibrating systems have damped force and friction.
Simple harmonic motion is only an ideal model. In the system, the net force (harmonic force)
has to be proportional to the displacement. The friction and other damped forces are ignored.
Hence, the amplitude is constant and the vibration agrees with energy conservation principle.
But in real vibrating system, the friction and other damped forces are unavoidable (inevitable,
). Therefore, the mechanical energy and amplitude of the vibration will decrease
gradually. This kind of vibration is called damped vibration or damped Harmonic motion.
Experiments show that when an object moves at a medium or lower speed, the damped force
is proportional to the speed of the object but in an opposite direction to its velocity. The
magnitude of the damped force is described by a damped factor, denoted by . When the
damped force is small, the period of the damped vibration is given by



where 0 is the proper angular frequency of the vibrating system.


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It can be deduced that because of the damped factor, the period is getting longer and the
frequency (f = 1/T) of the system is become smaller. That is the vibration goes slower. The
properties in such a case can be summarized as follows:
Due to the damped force,
(1). The mechanical energy1 becomes smaller;
(2). The amplitude decreases;
(3). The period increases but not with time;
(4). The frequency decreases;
(5). Vibration goes slower.
4.2.2 The forced vibration
The forced vibration is defined as the vibration exerted by an external periodic force. Assume
that the exerted periodic force is
F = Fm cos(t),
where Fm is the amplitude of the external force, is the angular frequency of the force.
When vibration is steady, the periodic force does work and puts in energy that is just
equal to the lost energy due to the resistance. The equation of motion is given by
x A cos(t ,

(Tell student how to derive the following quantities.) The characteristic quantities of the
vibration can also be derived,

, arctan 2
2 .
m 2 2 4 2 2

So we conclude that the vibrating system is also vibratory but with the frequency of the
external force. The amplitude of the forced vibration depends on Fm, angular frequency of the
force, proper () frequency of the system and damped factor (or coefficient).
4.2.3 Resonance ()
When the frequency of the external force approaches to the proper frequency of the vibrating
system, the amplitude of the forced
vibration will increase rapidly. This
phenomenon is known as resonance.
Mathematically we have
resonance 02 2 2
2m 02 2
Note that when 0, the resonance
frequency is equal to the proper frequency
of the system and the amplitude of the
forced vibration approaches infinity.

4.3 Composition() of SHM


: Mechanical energy is the kinetic energy plus all of the kinds of potential energies that are present.

Fig. 4.3 Amplitude

as a function of
external force frequency.

Chapter 4. Vibration, Wave motion and Sound

If a point mass is in several SHMs, its state of motion should be described by the addition
of SHM.
The displacement of the net vibration () can be obtained by the summation of
every component () of the vibrational reference vectors ().
Lets consider some special and simple cases.
4.3.1 The addition of the two vibrations with same direction and same frequency
1. The equation of compositive vibrations
Now we are considering that a point mass moves in two SHMs on a line and these two
SHMs have the same vibratory direction and identical frequency.
As the two vibrations can have different magnitudes and different initial phase. So they
have individual reference circle of their own.
Suppose that at some instant, the displacements of the two vibrations respectively are
Since the x1 and x2 are on the same line (called x-axis), the total displacement should be the
addition of x1 and x2 (see Figure on the next page) i. e.
x1 A1 cos(t 1 ),
x 2 A2 cos(t 2 ).
The resultant vibration can be described by x, the sum of x1 and x2,
x cos t ( A1 cos 1 A2 cos 2 ) sin t ( A1 sin 1 A2 sin 2 )

cos t A cos sin t A sin A(cos t cos sin t sin )

A cos(t )

As the two vibrations have the same frequency, the reference vectors A1 and A2 will rotate at
the same angular velocity.
y0 A sin y10 y 20
Therefore, A1 and A2 will
have the same angle between
A1 sin 1 A2 sin 2
them (see Fig. 4.4). The
result of the two rotating
vectors should be equivalent
to the compositive vector A
of the two vectors which
rotates in the same angular
From figure 4.4 we
could obtain the x-component
of A is
x 0 A cos

x10 x 20
A1 cos 1 A2 cos 2




Fig.4.4 Parallelogram rule ( )

and the y-component of the magnitude A is

y0 A sin y10 y20 A1 sin 1 A2 sin 2



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x x1 x 2
A1 cos(t 1 ) A2 cos(t 2 )
A1 (cos t cos 1 sin t sin 1 ) A2 (cos t cos 2 sin t sin 2 )
cos t ( A1 cos 1 A2 cos 2 ) sin t ( A1 sin 1 A2 sin 2 )

The above result shows that the compositive vibration of the two SHM is also simple
harmonic motion. It has the same angular frequency and a new initial phase factor and a new
amplitude. The phase factor and the new amplitude can be calculated as follows:
2. The amplitude and the initial phase factor of the compositive vibration
Using Pythagorean theorem, the magnitude of the new vibration is given by

x 02 y 02

A1 cos 1 A2 cos 2 2 A1 sin 1 A2 sin 2 2

A12 A22 2 A1 A2 cos 1 2

The initial phase factor can be found as

A sin 1 A2 sin 2
tan 0 1
x 0 A1 cos 1 A2 cos 2
These two parameters can be determined by the initial conditions only.


3. Discussions
The compositive () vibration is not only a SHM but also its frequency is still the
same as those of the component vibrations.
The amplitude and phase of the resultant vibration depend on the amplitudes and initial
phases of the two vibrations.
Two special cases
(1) 1 - 2 = 2k (k = 0, 1, 2, )
Substituting the condition into eq. (4.18), the amplitude can be obtained

A12 A22 2 A1 A2 cos 1 2

A12 A22 2 A1 A2

A1 A2

This means that when the initial two vibrations are in phase, the compositive amplitude is in
its maximum status.
(2) 1 - 2 = (2k+1) (k = 0, 1, 2, )
In such a case, the amplitude can be calculated using eq. (4.18) as follows:

A12 A22 2 A1 A2 cos 1 2

A12 A22 2 A1 A2

| A1 A2 |

This means that when the two initial SHMs are out of phase, the sum amplitude is minimum.
4.3.2 The composition of the two vibrations with the same direction and different


Chapter 4. Vibration, Wave motion and Sound

If the component vibrations have different frequency, the two rotating reference vectors A1
and A2 will have different angular velocity. So the angle between the two reference vectors
will be a function of time, not depending on the amplitudes and initial phases of A1 and A2 .
And also, the amplitude of the compositive vibration will change with time.
though the composite vibration is not SHM, it can still be periodic vibration as long as the
ratio of the two frequencies is an integer or the inverse of the ratio is an integral fraction. This
means that there exists a common basic frequency between the two frequencies. Any of them
divided by the fundamental frequency will give a pure integer (see English text books for an
example on page 59).
4.3.3 Vibrational spectrum ()
Opposite to the composition of the SHM, any complicated, periodic vibration can be
separated into a series of SHM. In other word, any complicated periodic function can be
expressed by Fourier Series as:
f (t ) A0 A1 cos t A2 cos 2t B1 sin t B2 sin 2t

n 0

n 0

A0 An cos nt Bn sin nt


Where An and Bn are Fourier Constants. These constants can be determined mathematically.
This procedure is called Spectral analysis (). Read your Chinese textbook to get
some general concept about the applications of spectral analysis.
4.3.4 The composition () of two vibrations with the same frequency but orthogonal
() directions.
Assume that an object moves in two SHM in a mutually perpendicular ()
direction and these two SHMs have the same frequency.
Suppose that the two vibrations are along x-axis and y-axis respectively and then the
vibrational equations can be written as
x A1 cos(t 1 )
y A2 cos(t 2 )
In order to find the real path of the object in x-y plane, we have to delete t from the above
equations of the simple harmonic motion and then the orbital equation of the object can be
2 xy

cos( 2 1 ) sin 2 ( 2 1 )
A2 A1 A2
Generally the above equation is an elliptic () equation. Lets have a look at some
special cases:
(1). If 2 - 1 = 2 k
(k = 0, 1, 2, ), then we have
2 xy
A2 A1 A2
This equation can also be written as


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A1 A2


A1 A2


This is a typical line equation which goes through the origin point (0,0) with slope of A2/A1.
(2). If 2 - 1 = (2 k+1)
(k = 0, 1, 2, ), the equation (4.22) becomes

A1 A2

0 y


This is also a line equation with slope of (-A2/A1).

(3). If 2 - 1 = (2 k+1) /2 (k = 0, 2, 4, ), the equation (4.22) becomes

A12 A22
When A1 = A2, it is a circle equation. In this case, from the equations of SHM, we know that
the object moves in clockwise () direction, while
If 2 - 1 = (2 k+1) /2 (k = 1, 3, 5, ), the equation (4.22) is the as above and the end of
vibrating vector will rotate anti-clockwise ().
Do you know how we can prove whether the rotation is clockwise or anti-clockwise? Here is
an example: Suppose that the initial phase on x-axis is zero and the initial phase of y-axis
vibration is /2. This is the case of
2 - 1 = /2
Considering the simultaneous equations

x A1 cos(t 1 ) A1 cos t

y A cos(t ) A cos(t )

For simplicity, if we suppose = 1/s, x and y can be found
as follows x = cos(t), y = cos(t+ /2); (This is the third case discussed above and it rotates
x = cos(t)
y = cos(t+ /2)

t = /3


t = /2

4.4 Wave motion and propagation ()

4.4.1 Mechanical Wave ( )
Mechanical wave is related to elastic medium ( ). A point mass vibrates due to a
disturbance and the vibration propagates () near to far in the elastic medium because of


Chapter 4. Vibration, Wave motion and Sound

the connection of the elastic forces. The propagating process of mechanical vibration in the
elastic medium is called Mechanical wave.
1. The production ( ) of mechanical wave requires (1) the mechanical vibrating object
which is called the source of wave () 2The elastic medium which can propagate
such mechanical vibrations.
If the mechanical vibration is SHM, its propagating process () is called Simple Harmonic
Wave. For example, if you hold one end of a long rope () with other end fixed and wave
your hand up and down frequently, the vibration will propagate along the rope. Now your
hand is the source of the wave and the rope is the elastic medium.
2. Wave front and wave line
(1) Wave front ()
For the propagation of a wave, at fixed time, the wave front is a group of point masses in
phase in their SHM and it moves forward when time goes by.
(2). Wave line: the wave line expresses the direction of wave propagation.
3. The characteristic quantities () of a simple harmonic wave
(1). The wave amplitude ()
A is the maximum displacement of the string ( ) from the center position. It is the
amplitude of the SHM carried out by each piece () of the string.
(2). The wave period () T is the period of the SHM carried out by each piece of
the string. It is the time interval ( ) between the two corresponding points ( ) on
the displacement-versus-time graph ( ). These two points are in the exactly
same vibrating state.
(3). The wave frequency () f is the number of vibrations per second by each piece
of the string. It is related to the period by:


It is same as the result of SHM.

(4). The wave length ( ) is the distance between two adjacent ( )
corresponding points on the wave shape. e.g. between two wave crests ( ) or two troughs
(). These two points have a phase difference () of 2.


Wave crest ()


Trough ()

Fig. 4.5 the graph showing wave quantities, amplitude,

wavelength, frequencies, period and so on.

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(5). The wave velocity v is the velocity of the progression () of the wave shape. The
distance from crest to crest is , and the time period of the progression taken is T, so the
velocity of the wave progression should be

v f

Hence wave velocity is equal to the wavelength times wave frequency.

4.4.2 Transverse and longitudinal waves ()
1. Transverse wave ()
The direction of SHM of the medium is perpendicular to the direction of the wave
propagation. Such wave is called transverse wave. Example can be a wave propagating on a
string. Any medium which has shear modulus can propagate transverse waves (which will talk
in the third part of this subsection). Generally speaking, liquid and air cannot transmit
transverse waves but water waves contain the part of transverse waves.
2. Longitudinal wave ()
The direction of the medium occurs in the same direction as the direction of the wave
propagation, the wave is called longitudinal. In such cases. The progression of the wave is
based on the compression () and expansion () of the medium. Figure 4.6 shows that
a tuning fork produces sound wave which propagates in air. The air molecules are compressed
or pulled apart regularly. Their changes are from time to time and each air molecule vibrates
about its position of equilibrium. Its pressure changes at a particular position are expressed in
Figure 4.7.

Fig. 4.6 the sound wave produced by a tuning fork and propagates in air.


Chapter 4. Vibration, Wave motion and Sound

Fig. 4.7 sound pressure superimposed on air pressure

3. Velocity of the transverse and longitudinal wave

(1). Gas and liquid medium ():
Generally speaking, in the fluid medium, only longitudinal wave can propagate and its
velocity is


Where K is the bulk modulus (), is the density of the medium.

(2). Solid medium
(i). For transverse wave, we have


Where G is shear modulus ().

(ii). For longitudinal waves, we have


Y is Yongs modulus of the medium which is the ratio of the stress and strain (
). Here the only thing we have to know is that the velocity of waves depends on the
properties of the medium. As the wave period T does not change with time, the wavelength l
will change with medium variation.

4.5 Wave equation of motion

It is known that the SHM of a point mass can be described by the equation of SHM. This
equation can give the state () of the point mass at any moment. As the simple harmonic
waves are the propagation of the SHM every point mass on the propagation direction


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experiences the simple harmonic motion. The wave equation of motion we try to setup should
not only be able to describe the vibrations of all the particles composing the wave
but also give the relationship of cause and effect () between points on the wave.
Suppose that a simple harmonic wave propagates undiminishedly () along x-direction
at the speed of v and at point O, the vibrational equation of the point mass is given by
s A cos(t )

is the initial phase and A is the amplitude and is its angular frequency. Considering the
vibration at point O propagates to Point P, suppose that the wave velocity is v, then the time
taken from O to P should be

OP x

Therefore the vibration of the point

mass at P will delay the period x/v.
So the equation of the SHM at point P
should be

S A cos t


Fig. 4.8 Graph showing the wave propagation

This is the equation of wave motion as the displacement at point P is the function of time and
position of the point mass. It is really the vibrational equation of motion at point P. But as
point P can be any point on the wave line, so this equation can describe the motion of any
point mass on the wave direction. This is one of the properties of the equation of the wave
motion. The initial phase can be chosen as zero and using = 2/T, = v T, we have
t x

s A cos 2
A cos t


Define the wave number k = 2 / and we have the frequently used form of wave equation:
s A cos t kx
This equation of wave motion describes the wave propagating along positive x-direction. If
the wave moves along the negative () direction of x-axis, the equation becomes
s A cos t kx
Example 4-2. A source of wave moves in SHM. Its equation of motion is s = 0.04 cos(2.5t)
(m). This wave propagates in a medium along positive x-direction at the speed of 100 m s-1.
Try to find: (1) wave equation of motion; (2) the displacement and velocity of the point mass
which is 20 meters away from the wave source at the time of 1.0 second after the wave source
starts its motion.
Solution: (1)
Wave source vibration

Equation of wave motion

s A cos t
s A cos t

Comparing this equation with the one given s = 0.04 cos(2.5t) in the problem, we have
A = 0.04 (m), w = 2.5 (rad/s), = 0, vwave = 100 ms-1. So the equation of wave motion can
be obtained


Chapter 4. Vibration, Wave motion and Sound

s 0.04 cos 2.5 t


(2) Find displacement and velocity. Substituting the x = 20 meters and t = 1 second into the
wave equation, we have


s 0.04 cos 2.5 1

0.04 cos 2.0 0.04

The velocity of the mass point is

ds d
A cos t
dt dt

A sin t v


0.04 2.5 sin 2.5 1


Here we can see that the vibrating velocity of point mass and the propagating velocity of the
wave are total different concepts. The vibrating velocity is a function of time while the
velocity of wave propagating in a medium is a constant in a particular medium which depends
on the property of the medium.

4.6 wave energy

4.6.1 Wave energy
The propagation of wave is actually the propagation of energy. In the medium, the wave
energy in a volume DV can be calculated as follows.
The mass in V is V = m. The kinetic energy is given by
Ek m




The potential energy of wave can be calculated according to


1 ds

2 dx


Where Y is Yongs modulus. Substituting the equation of wave motion (s = A cos[(t-kx)+]),

the relation among the density of the medium, the wave velocity and Yongs modulus Y =
v2, and k = 2/ =2/vT = /v into the above equations, we have
Ek E p

VA 2 2 sin 2 t kx

The total energy for the region we studied is

Etotal Ek E p VA 2 2 sin 2 t kx

The density of energy is

E total A2 2 sin 2 t kx


The average energy density in a period can be expressed as


A2 2



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This formula is valid not only for transverse but also for longitudinal waves.
4.6.2 The intensity () of wave
The intensity of wave is defined as the average propagating energy of wave per unit time per
unit area, across the surface perpendicular to the direction of propagation. As we know, the
wave energy (E) in a particular volume is proportional to its volume size, equal to the average
energy in this volume times the volume (V). That is
E EV .
Thinking the wave motion as the liquid flow, during the unit time, i.e. within one second, then
you may ask how much liquid could flow to the other side of the unit-cross-section? It is easy
to work out if we know the speed of liquid flow as during the t period, there is a volume vt of
liquid flowing to the other side of the unit area. Therefore in unit time, the medium that joins
the wave motion has a volume of v in number, and contains the wave energy of E v which is
actually the average propagating energy of wave per unit time per unit area. So the intensity
of wave is given by
I Ev

2 A2 v

It is proportional to the density of the medium, to the square of wave frequency and
magnitude and to the speed of wave as well.

4.6.3 Attenuation () of wave

The intensity of wave attenuates in its propagation and the amplitude of the wave will become
smaller and smaller with the wave propagation. The reasons for this are quite simple. One is
the internal friction which transfers the wave energy into other kinds of energy and the other
reason is wave spreading ().
The attenuation is different in different medium. There is a particular parameter () to
describe the speed of attenuation for each medium. This parameter is called the absorption
coefficient of medium, demoted by m. The result is
I I 0 e x

where I0 is the intensity of wave at x = 0 and I is the density at the distance of x from x = 0.

4.7 Huygens Principle

In medium, any point mass vibration causes the vibration of its immediate neighbors. So this
point can be regarded as a wave source. And Huygens principle is based on this idea. Every
point on a wave front can be regarded as a new point source for waves generated in the
direction of the wave propagation.

4.8 Interference () of Waves

4.8.1 Superposition principle of waves


Chapter 4. Vibration, Wave motion and Sound

Experiments show that several waves from different sources can propagate in the same
medium independently. Each wave can keep its own feature (frequency, wavelength,
vibrational and propagating direction). In the meeting point of several waves, the vibration of
that point is the addition of component vibrations caused by each wave. The characteristic of
a wave is called superposition of principle of wave. It describes the independent feature of
wave propagation. For example, different sounds can be distinguished () by ears.
4.8.2 Interference of waves
Superposition of several waves is not so simple, especially when their amplitude, frequency
and phase are different. Considering the simplest and most important case in which the
superposition is caused by only two waves that have the same frequency, vibrational direction
and the same initial phase or constant phase change. These two waves are called coherent
waves. In the superposition region of the two coherent waves, the vibrations of some points
have large amplitudes at any time and the vibrations of some other points always have smaller
amplitude. This phenomenon is called the interference of wave! Lets calculate the amplitudes
of the superposition waves by comparing them with addition of SHM. Suppose that we have
two vibration equations as wave sources and we have their wave equations very easy.
Two vibrations

two corresponding waves

s01 A01 cos t 1

s1 A1 cos t 1 kx1

s02 A02 cos t 2

s2 A2 cos t 2 kx2

'1 1 kx1
2 2 kx2

s A cos(t )

A A12 A22 2 A1 A2 cos( '1 '2 )

A A012 A022 2 A01 A02 cos(1 2 )

Discussion: Variation of the phase difference 1 2


1 2 2m

(m = 0, 1, 2, )

We have cos(1 2 ) 1 and A = A1 + A2


1 2 (2m 1)

(m = 0, 1, 2, )

we have cos(1 2 ) 1
A = |A1 A2|
3. A special case of 1 2 . Then the phase change will depend on the distance change only
1 2 k ( x1 x2 ) k
where is the difference of wave distance. as


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x1 x2 m
x1 x2 (2m 1)

(m = 0, 1, 2, ) A is maximum
(m = 0, 1, 2, ) A is Minimum

4.8.3 Standing wave

Standing wave is a special example of wave interference. A sound fork ( ) and a fixed
supporting point are connected by a string. Striking the fork and adjusting the fixed point, you
will find that some point on the string appears static or stationary or stand and other points
vibrate. It seems that each point on the string has its own vibrating amplitude. The standing
points are called nodes and the points between nodes which have maximum amplitude are
called loops or antinodes ().
Standing wave is produced by the addition of two traveling waves that propagate on the
string in an opposite direction. These two waves are expressed by s1 and s2 respectively
s1 A cos(t kx)
s 2 A cos(t kx)

The superposition of the two waves can be calculated as

s s1 s1 A cos(t kx) A cos(t kx)

Using the trigonometric function relation, we have

s A cos t cos kx sin t sin kx
A cos t cos kx sin t sin kx
2 A cos kx cos t

The first part of this function does not depend on time. It is a function of x and it changes as
the position on a string varies. At any particular position , it is a sinusoidal wave (). So
each point will move in SHM and it has constant amplitude at each particular point.
It is known that when cos(kx)=0, the vibration equation is always equal to zero. That is s
= 2A cos(kx) cos(t) = 0. Therefore, all the points satisfied with the condition are called
When cos(kxm) = 0, then

kx m (2m 1) ,

so we have


Chapter 4. Vibration, Wave motion and Sound

2 2

(2m 1) .

x m (2m 1)

The distance between two neighbor nodes is

xm 1 xm 2(m 1) 1 (2m 1)

4 2

When cos kx m 1 , we have s 2 A cos t . This particle moves in SHM and in its
maximum condition. In the case of cos kx m 1 , We obtain
kx m m

( m 0,1,2,...)

So that

(m 0,1,2,...)
This is the position of loops or antinodes. It is easy to understand that the standing wave has
no energy propagating from one place to another, but it has energy transferred between kinetic
energy and potential energy. From the equation of the standing wave, we know that the
vibrations on the string have the same phase between the two neighbor nodes but out of phase
on the two sides of a node.
xm m

4.9 Sound Wave

The vibrations which have the mechanical frequencies from 20Hz to 20,000Hz are called
sound vibrations. The longitudinal wave caused by sound vibration is called Sound Wave.
Ultrasonic wave is defined as the sound wave whose frequency is higher than 20,000Hz.
Infrasonic waves frequency is less than 20Hz.
4.9.1 Sound pressure and sound intensity
1. Sound pressure
Sound wave is a longitudinal wave. When it is traveling in a
medium, the density of the medium changes recurrently. The medium is compressed and
expanded periodically. The region compressed has higher pressure and the area expanded in
the medium has lower pressure. It is known that the sound wave equation is

s A cos (t )

The sound pressure P is related to the bulk modulus K and the density of the medium. Their
relation is given by

K v

Where v is the vibrating velocity of the point mass and should be calculated using ds/dt. As



Medical Physics

vA sin t

vA cos t

P v

Pm cos t

where Pm is the amplitude of the sound pressure.

2. Acoustic impedance ()
Suppose that the amplitude of the vibrational velocity is vm then we have vm = A. The
acoustic impedance is defined as
Pm vA

(kg m-2s-1)
where is the density of the medium and v is the propagating velocity of wave in medium.

3. Sound intensity
Sound intensity is defined as the sound power per area traveling through vertical crosssection of propagating direction
1 2 Pm2
2 2
I v A Zvm
Sound wave will reflect or refract at the boundary of two different mediums.
Reflection coefficient of intensity is
Z Z1

ir r 2
I i Z 2 Z1


The transmitted coefficient is


4 Z1 Z 2

I i Z1 Z 2 2




Where Ii is the intensity of incident ()

Fig. 4.9 sound wave transmission
waveIr is the intensity of reflected wave
and It is the intensity of transmitted wave.
Example 4-3 Calculate the transmitted coefficient of intensity for ultrasonic wave: (1) from
air to human body, (2) from jelly-like () substance () to human body; known that
Z air 4.16 10 2
Z body 1.63 10 6
Z jelly 1.36 10 6

Their dimensions are the same, give by kgm-2s-1

Solution: (1) from air to human body, the transmitted wave intensity is
4Z air Z body
it t
I i Z air Z body 2


Chapter 4. Vibration, Wave motion and Sound

Almost no ultrasonic wave penetrate () human body.

(2) From Jelly to human body, the transmitted intensity () of the wave can
be obtained as
4 Z jelly Z body
it t
I i Z jelly Z body 2
It is a high transmission! This example explains that when the ultrasonic wave is used in
medical treatment, we have to put some acoustic impedance jelly-like material between
human skin and ultrasonic wave probe (), in order to get higher transmission rate (
, transmissivity).
4.9.2 Auditory region
For a sound wave which could be heard, it should not only be in a certain frequency
region but also in a certain intensity region. For any given frequency which is audible, its
intensity has an upper and a lower limit. The lower limit is the smallest intensity that can be
auditory, it is called the threshold of hearing.
The normal threshold of hearing changes with frequency.
from the curve we know that threshold of hearing is very different in different frequency.
And the most sensitive frequency is 1000-5000Hz for human ears as this is concerned with
the structure of ears. The upper limit is the biggest intensity the human ears can put up with .
If the intensity is bigger than the upper limit, it will cause ear-ache. The upper limit is called
threshold of feeling. Of course, it changes with variation of frequency too. The region is
called auditory region which is surrounded by threshold of hearing, threshold of feeling and
the frequency line of 20Hz and 20000Hz.
4.9.3 Intensity level and loudness level
Auditory region is pretty big. In frequency 1000Hz, for example, from the threshold of
hearing (10-12 wm-2 ) and the threshold of feeling (1 wm-2 ), the change is too much.
Intensity depends on the feeling of ear. It is called loudness.
We use common logarithm to express the intensity level, denoted by L (bel or B). B divided
by 10 is called decibel, denoted by dB. For its definition, we write intensity level as
L lg

( B ) 10 lg

(dB )

where I0 = 10-12 Wm-2 is the standard reference sound intensity. Generally speaking it is
difficult to measure sound intensity. Usually, we measure the sound pressure and calculate the
L by
L 10 lg 10 lg 2 20 lg
where P0 = 210 Nm is standard reference sound pressure. Neither sound intensity nor
intensity level can describe the loudness level of hearing completely. Even equal sound
intensity or intensity level is of different loudness due to the different frequency. Also equal
loudness can be caused by different sound intensity or intensity levels with different
frequency. Loudness contour is curve which represents the same loudness. Loudness level
expresses different loudness. Its unit is phon.
Example 4-4: The intensity produced by a motor is 10-7 Wm-2, calculate: (1). Intensity of one
motor; (2) intensity of two motors at the same time.


Medical Physics

Solution: According to their definitions substituting the standard intensities into the formula,
we have
L1 10 lg

10 7
10 lg 12 50 (dB )

L2 10 lg

10 7
10 lg 2 10 lg 12 53 (dB)

Therefore, one motor produces 50 db, but two motors produce 53 db only.

4.10 Doppler effect

The frequency of a fixed-frequency siren on an emergency vehicle seems to change as vehicle
passes a listener. Of course a siren on a train is most obvious while the train passes by. It
becomes louder while the train comes towards us and it is less loudly while the train runs
away from us. This effect is called Doppler effect.
What is the change of frequency if both the wave source and receiver are moving.
Details about the derivation of the formula will be ignored as it is not important. We try to use
the results someone has already obtained. Looking at the following formula:
f observer sound
f source
vsound vsource
Where the fsource is the frequency produced by the source of sound wave, the fobserver is the
frequency received by observer, vsound is the velocity of sound in air, vsource is the velocity of
the wave source and the vobserver is the velocity of receiver or observer, the plus and minus
signs in front of vsource are for the wave source moving away from or towards the observer
respectively but the plus and minus signs in front of vobserver represent the observer moves
towards and away from the wave source respectively.
Lets have a look at the details of the formula. While the observer and the wave source is
stationary, the frequency of wave source and the observed frequency are same. Suppose that
the observer is stationary, then vobserver is zero and now the vsource is not zero; the sign in its
front takes positive if it moves near the observer and takes negative one otherwise. Suppose
that the wave source is stationary and the observer is moving, the minus and positive signs
should be taken as the same rule given above. It is important that their speed should be base
on air, the medium of the sound wave propagation.

Towards source

f observer

Away from the source

vsound vobserver
f source
vsound vsource
Towards observer

Away from observer


Chapter 4. Vibration, Wave motion and Sound

Example 4-5: A siren on the train emits a sound wave of frequency 2 kHz. What change in
the frequency of the sound does a person standing near the railroad notice when the train
passes at 96 km/h? (Using 340m/s for the velocity of sound in air)
Solution: (1) in order to calculate the observed frequency of sound, we know that the receiver
is stationary and this means that vobserver =0 and as the train moves toward the observer, the
sign in front of vsource should take the minus sign. So we have
f observer

vsound 0
f source
vsound vsource
2000 2170Hz
340 26.7

(2). When the train moves away from the listener

f observer sound
f source
vsound vsource

2000 1854Hz
340 26.7
(3). There is a mutation () of frequency as the train just passes the listener.
f observer 2170 1854 316 Hz

4.11 Ultrasonic wave () and applications

In this section, we would like to introduce the features and applications of ultrasonic wave. It
is really not my job to introduce all details about the productions of ultrasonic waves and the
principles of all ultrasonic machines. Students who are interested in could get more
information from our Chinese textbook.
4.11.1 The properties of ultrasonic waves
The frequency of ultrasonic waves is between 2104 and 5109 Hz. Ultrasonic waves not only
have the features of sound wave but also possess the characteristics of high frequencies, short
waves and other properties:
1. Directionality () : Since high frequency corresponding to short wavelength high
frequency waves hardly () diffract (: deviation of a wave line at the edge of an
obstacle) and propagate in line.
2. Higher transmission ( ): This property is very important as it can transmit
high density materials like water, fat, muscle () , soft tissue () and so on but not
air, bone and lung () tissues. Using these property, the ultrasonic wave can be used to the
medical treatment.
3. Reflection (): Ultrasonic waves will reflect at the boundary () of medium. Only if
the dimension of the object is a few times of the wavelength, can the ultrasonic waves be
reflected. Due to the short wavelength of the ultrasonic waves, a pretty small object can cause
reflection, such as an air bubble () in steel, lesion (/li:3en/) in biological tissue (
). Echo () generates the ultrasonic image.

Medical Physics

Ultrasonic waves has become a very useful tool for diagnosis and detection. When high
intensity ultrasound propagates through a medium, it generates series special actions. Please
read your Chinese text book to get the general idea about the applications of ultrasonic waves.
4.11.2 Applications of ultrasound to medicine
Ultrasound is widely used for diagnosis and treatment, especially diagnosis. Most
ultrasound images came from the boundary reflection in the human body. We can diagnose
pathological changes in tissue.
1. A-type ultrasonic diagnosing instrument (A )
This sort of instrument can only get one dimension signal. You cannot see the shape of
lesions () or pathological() changes.
2. B-type ultrasonic diagnosing instrument (B )
This sort of instrument can form two-dimensional tomography ( x-) image
() of human internal organs () and the lesions in tissue. This will greatly help
doctors to make a correct diagnosis.
3. M-type ultrasonic diagnosing instrument (M )
Using this instrument, the function of heart can be detected and the heartbeat image ()
can be obtained. (.)
4. Ultrasonic Doppler blood-flow instrument ()
Ultrasonic Doppler blood-flow instrument is based on the Doppler effect. The probe of this
instrument consists of two crystals, one is transmitter and the other is receiver. The velocity of
bloodcell () flow can be obtained by this instrument.
5. Color Doppler ultrasonic blood-flow imaging instrument ()
This is the most advanced instrument to diagnose( ) heart diseases. If you would like to
what it can do and what you can get from it, please your Chinese text book on page 71.
Generally, you should read your text book pages 68-71 to get the details about the pplications
of ultrasound in medical science.
Note: See English textbook on pages 103-4 Try to understand examples 3, 4, 5 and 6 .

A. Vibrations
1. A particle with mass m = 2.00 10-2 kg is in SHM at the end of a spring with spring
constant k = 50.0 N/m. The initial displacement and velocity of the particle is 3.00 10 -2
m and 1.32 m/s respectively. Calculate (1) the angular frequency; (2) the initial phase;
(3) the amplitude of the vibration; (4) the period; (5) the frequency. (example in lecture)
2. Suppose that an electron moves in the addition of two vibrations which are along x-axis
and y-axis respectively and then the vibrational equations are given as
x A1 cos(t 1 )
y A2 cos(t 2 )


Chapter 4. Vibration, Wave motion and Sound

Their compositive orbit in x-y plane is

x2 y2
2 xy
cos( 2 1 ) sin 2 ( 2 1 )
A1 A2 A1 A2

Suppose that A1 =2, A2 =3 and 1 - 2 = /4. Please try to

(1) draw the electron path of motion on x-y plane; (2) determine its direction of
motion (clockwise or anticlockwise).
B. Waves
3. A source of wave moves in SHM. Its equation of motion is s = 0.04 cos(2.5 t) (m). This
wave propagates in a medium along positive x-direction at the speed of 100 m s-1. Try to
find: (1) wave equation of motion; (2) the displacement and velocity of the point mass
which is 20 meters away from the wave source at the time of 1.0 second after the wave
source starts its motion.
4. There are two coherent wave sources propagating in the same medium. Their frequency is
660Hz, their amplitude is A = 0.5m and the propagating velocity is 330 m/s. The two
waves interfere at point P. (1). For two sources which are in phase, calculate the amplitude
at P when AP = 12 m and BP = 15 m; (2) for the two sources which are out of phase,
calculate the amplitude at the same point P.
5. An observer standing on the railway side hears a train moving away at the speed of 40.8
m/s with a horn frequency of 375Hz. It is known that the velocity of sound is 340 m/s in
air. Find the original frequency of the horn on the train.