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as we saw in the illustration of the Poynting vector. Thus, for a dielectric the electrostatic

energy 12 "E x2 per unit volume in an electromagnetic wave equals the magnetic energy per

unit volume 12 H y2 and the total energy is the sum 12 "E x2 þ 12 H y2 .

This gives the instantaneous value of the energy per unit volume and we know that, in

the wave,

E x ¼ E 0 sin ð2=Þðvt zÞ

and

H y ¼ H 0 sin ð2=Þðvt zÞ

so that the time average value of the energy per unit volume is

1 2 y2 ¼ 1 "E 02 þ 1 H 02

2 "E x þ 12 H 4 4

¼ 12 "E 02 J m 3

Now the amount of energy in an electromagnetic wave which crosses unit area in unit

time is called the intensity, I, of the wave and is evidently (12 "E 02 Þv where v is the velocity

of the wave.

This gives the time averaged value of the Poynting vector and, for an electromagnetic

wave in free space we have

I ¼ 12 c" 0 E 02 ¼ 12 c 0 H 02 W m 2

(Problems 8.2, 8.3, 8.4, 8.5, 8.6, 8.7, 8.8, 8.9, 8.10, 8.11)

(where r 6¼ 0)

From a physical point of view the electric vector in electromagnetic waves plays a much more

signiﬁcant role than the magnetic vector, e.g. most optical effects are associated with the

electric vector. We shall therefore concentrate our discussion on the electric ﬁeld behaviour.

In a medium of conductivity ¼ 0 we have obtained the wave equation

@ 2E x @ 2E x

¼ "

@z 2 @t 2

where the right hand term, rewritten

@ @

ð"E x Þ

@t @t

@ displacement current

@t area

Electromagnetic Waves in a Medium of Properties , and (where 6¼ 0) 209

When 6¼ 0 we must also consider the conduction currents which ﬂow. These currents are

given by Ohm’s Law as I ¼ V=R, and we deﬁne the current density; that is, the current per

unit area, as

I 1 V

J¼ ¼ ¼ E

Area R Length Length

where is the conductivity 1/ðR LengthÞ and E is the electric ﬁeld. J ¼ E is another

form of Ohm’s Law.

With both displacement and conduction currents ﬂowing, Maxwell’s second time-

varying equation reads, in vector form,

@

rH¼ DþJ ð8:5Þ

@t

each term on the right hand side having dimensions of current per unit area. The presence

of the conduction current modiﬁes the wave equation by adding a second term of the same

form to its righthand side, namely

@ current @ @

which is ðJÞ ¼ ðEÞ

@t area @t @t

@2 @2 @

E x ¼ " E x þ Ex ð8:6Þ

@z 2 @t 2 @t

and this equation may be derived formally by writing the component equation of (8.5) as

@E x @H y

" þ E x ¼ ð8:5aÞ

@t @z

together with

@H y @E x

¼ ð8:1aÞ

@t @z

and taking @=@t of (8.5a) and @=@z of (8.1a). We see immediately that the presence of the

resistive or dissipation term, which allows conduction currents to ﬂow, will add a diffusion

term of the type discussed in the last chapter to the pure wave equation. The product

ðÞ 1 is called the magnetic diffusivity, and has the dimensions L 2 T 1 , as we expect of

all diffusion coefﬁcients.

We are now going to look for the behaviour of E x in this new equation, with the

assumption that its time-variation is simple harmonic, so that E x ¼ E 0 e i!t . Using this

value in equation (8.6) gives

@ 2E x

ði! ! 2 "ÞE x ¼ 0

@z 2

210 Electromagnetic Waves

@ 2E x

2E x ¼ 0

@z 2

We saw in Chapter 7 that this produced a solution with the term e z or e þz , but we

concentrate on the E x oscillation in the positive z-direction by writing

E x ¼ E 0 e i!t e z

In order to assign a suitable value to we must go back to equation (8.6) and consider the

relative magnitudes of the two right hand side terms. If the medium is a dielectric, only

displacement currents will ﬂow. When the medium is a conductor, the ohmic currents of

the second term on the right hand side will be dominant. The ratio of the magnitudes of the

conduction current density to the displacement current density is the ratio of the two right

hand side terms. This ratio is

J E x E x E x

¼ ¼ ¼ ¼

@D=@t @=@tð"E x Þ @=@tð"E 0 e i!t Þ i!"E x i!"

We see immediately from the presence of i that the phase of the displacement current is

90 ahead of that of the ohmic or conduction current. It is also 90 ahead of the electric

ﬁeld E x so the displacement current dissipates no power.

For a conductor, where J @D=@t, we have !", and 2 ¼ ið!Þ !"ð!Þ

becomes

2 i!

Now

pﬃ 1 þ i

i ¼ pﬃﬃﬃ

2

so that

! 1=2

¼ ð1 þ iÞ

2

and

E x ¼ E 0 e i!t e z

1=2 1=2

¼ E 0 e ð!=2Þ z

e i½!tð!=2Þ z

Electromagnetic Wave Velocity in a Conductor and Anomalous Dispersion 211

λc = 2 p δ

Z 1

δ = ( 2 )2

wms

λc

Figure 8.5 Electromagnetic waves in a dielectric strike the plane surface of a conductor, and the

electric field vector E 0 is damped to a value E 0 e 1 in a distance of ð2=!Þ 1=2 , the ‘skin depth’. This

explains the electrical shielding properties of a conductor. c is the wavelength in the conductor

a progressive

1=2

wave in the positive z-direction with an amplitude decaying with the factor

eð!=2Þ z .

Note that the product ! has dimensions L 2 .

(Problem 8.12)

Skin Depth

After travelling a distance

1=2

2

¼

!

in the conductor the electric ﬁeld vector has decayed to a value E x ¼ E 0 e 1 ; this distance

is called the skin depth (Figure 8.5).

For copper, with 0 and ¼ 5:8 10 7 S m 1 at a frequency of 60 Hz, 9 mm;

at 1 MHz, 6:6 10 5 m and at 30 000 MHz (radar wavelength of 1 cm),

3:8 10 7 m.

Thus, high frequency electromagnetic waves propagate only a very small distance in a

conductor. The electric ﬁeld is conﬁned to a very small region at the surface; signiﬁcant

currents will ﬂow only at the surface and the resistance of the conductor therefore increases

with frequency. We see also why a conductor can act to ‘shield’ a region from electro-

magnetic waves.

Dispersion

The phase velocity of the wave v is given by

! ! 2! 1=2

v¼ ¼ ¼ ! ¼ ¼

c

k ð!=2Þ 1=2

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