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Lecture Review

Electromagnetic waves in vacuum

Maxwell’s equations predict the existence of electromagnetic waves in free space (region

with no charge and current). An electromagnetic wave is basically an oscillation of electric

and magnetic fields that propagates with velocity

1

v=√ = 3.00 × 108 m/s = c (1)

0 µ0

Based on the value of the speed of EM waves, which is calculated theoretically, it has been

deduced that light is an electromagnetic wave.

~

E(x, t) = E0 n̂ cos(kx − ωt) (2)

where

E0 = the amplitude

n̂ = the direction of oscillation/polarization

k = wave number (it is related to the wavelength λ)

2π

=

λ

ω = angular frequency (it is related to the frequency)

= 2πf

ω and k are related to each other via the relation

ω

c= = fλ (3)

k

The direction of propagation can be determined from the signs of the terms in the phase.

- 1 -

The magnetic field accompanying the electric field (2) in an EM wave is given by

~ = 1 (k̂ × E)

B ~ (4)

c

As with all other waves, electromagnetic waves transport energy. The average power density

(energy per unit area per unit time) is given by

1

hSiav = c0 E02 (5)

2

EM waves in materials

To investigate EM waves in material with permittivity and permeability µ, we can use the

same equations for EM waves in vacuum, with the simple replacements 0 → , µ0 → µ and

hence c → v where

1

v=√ (6)

µ

Thus in material with permittivity and permeability µ, we have

B ~ = µ (k̂ × E)

~ = 1 (k̂ × E) ~ (7)

v η

1 1

hSiav = vE02 = E02 (8)

2 2η

The new quantity η that appears in the above equations is called intrinsic impedance of

the material and defined as r

µ

η= (9)

~ and B

Figure 1: An EM wave consists of E ~ oscillating perpendicular to each other and to

the propagation direction.

- 2 -

Exercises

1. (a) By combining relevant Maxwell’s equations, derive the wave equation for the mag-

~ in free space where there is no charge and current (ρv = 0 and ~J = 0)

netic field B

~

∂B

~ = µ0 0

∇2 B

∂t

~ 1

B(x, t) = B0 n̂ cos[k(x − vt)] where v = √

0 µ0

satisfies the wave equation (consider only the magnetic field in one dimension).

(c) Convince yourself that the function above represents a wave propagating with ve-

locity v.

(d) Convince yourself that light is an electromagnetic wave.

given by

B~ = 30 cos(108 t − 0.5y) (T)

Find the following:

(a) The direction of propagation

(b) The velocity

(c) The wavelength in the material

(d) The relative permittivity of the material

3. Write general expressions for the electric and magnetic fields of a 1-GHz sinusoidal

plane wave travelling in the +y-direction in a lossless nonmagnetic medium with relative

permittivity r = 9. The electric field is polarized along the x-direction, its peak value

is 6 V/m.

4. The electric field of a plane wave propagating in a lossless, nonmagnetic, dielectric ma-

terial with r = 2.56 is given by

~ = 20 ây cos(6π × 109 t − kz)

E (V/m)

Determine:

(a) The frequency

(b) The velocity

(c) The wavelength

(d) The intrinsic impedence

- 3 -

~

(e) The magnetic field H

(f) The average power density carried by the wave

~ = 50 âx sin(2π × 107 t − ky)

B (T).

- 4 - End

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