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What is a wave?

A wave is anything that moves.


To displace any function f(x) to the
right, just change its argument from
x to x-a, where a is a positive
number.
If we let a = v t, where v is positive
and t is time, then the displacement
will increase with time.

f(x)
f(x-2)
f(x-1)
f(x-3)

So f(x - v t) represents a rightward,


or forward, propagating wave.
Similarly, f(x + v t) represents a
leftward, or backward, propagating
wave, where v is the velocity of the
wave.

For an EM wave, we could have E = f(x vt)

The one-dimensional wave equation


The one-dimensional wave equation for scalar (i.e., non-vector)
functions, f:

2 f
x 2

1 2 f
v 2 t 2

where v will be the velocity of the wave.


The wave equation has the simple solution:

f ( x, t ) f ( x vt )
where f (u) can be any twice-differentiable function.

Proof that f (x vt) solves the wave equation


Write f (x vt) as f (u), where u = x vt. So u
and
1
x
f f u

x u x

Now, use the chain rule:

So

f f

x u

2
2

x 2 u 2

and

f
f
v
t
u

f f u

t u t
2
2

f
2

v
t 2
u 2

Substituting into the wave equation:

2 f
1 2 f
2 2
2
x
v t

2 f
1 2 2 f
2 v

2
u
v
u 2

u
v
t

What about a harmonic wave?

E = E 0 cos k(x ct)


E0 = wave amplitude (related to the energy
carried by the wave).

2
k=
= 2 = angular wavenumber

( = wavelength;

= wavenumber = 1/)

Alternatively:

E = E 0 cos(kx t)

Where = kc = 2c/ = 2f = angular


frequency (f = frequency)

What about a harmonic wave?

E = E 0 cos k(x ct); = k(x ct)


The argument of the cosine function represents the phase of the wave,
, or the fraction of a complete cycle of the wave.

In-phase waves

Line of equal phase = wavefront = contours of maximum field

Out-of-phase
waves

The Phase Velocity


How fast is the wave traveling?
Velocity is a reference distance
divided by a reference time.

The phase velocity is the wavelength / period: v = /


Since f = 1/:

v = f

In terms of k, k = 2/ , and
the angular frequency, = 2/ , this is:

v =/k

The Group Velocity

This is the velocity at which the overall shape of the waves amplitudes,
or the wave envelope, propagates. (= signal velocity)
Here, phase velocity = group velocity (the medium is non-dispersive)

Dispersion: phase/group velocity depends on frequency

Black dot moves at phase velocity. Red dot moves at group velocity.
This is normal dispersion (refractive index decreases with increasing )

Dispersion: phase/group velocity depends on frequency

Black dot moves at group velocity. Red dot moves at phase velocity.
This is anomalous dispersion (refractive index increases with increasing )

Normal dispersion of visible light

Shorter (blue) wavelengths refracted more than long (red) wavelengths.


Refractive index of blue light > red light.

Complex numbers
Consider a point,
P = (x,y), on a 2D
Cartesian grid.

Let the x-coordinate be the real part


and the y-coordinate the imaginary part
of a complex number.
So, instead of using an ordered pair, (x,y), we write:
P = x+iy
= A cos() + i A sin()
where i = (-1)

or sometimes j = (-1)

Eulers Formula

Voted the Most Beautiful Mathematical


Formula Ever in 1988

Links the trigonometric functions and the complex exponential function

exp(i) = cos() + i sin()

so the point, P = A cos() + i A sin(), can also be written:

P = A exp(i) = A ei
where

A = Amplitude
= Phase

Waves using complex numbers

E = E 0 cos k(x ct); = k(x ct)


The argument of the cosine function represents the phase of the wave,
, or the fraction of a complete cycle of the wave.
Using complex numbers, we can write the harmonic wave equation as:

E = E 0e

ik( x ct )

= E 0e

i( kx t )

i.e., E = E0 cos() + i E0 sin(), where the real part of the expression


actually represents the wave.
We also need to specify the displacement E at x = 0 and t = 0, i.e., the
initial displacement.

Amplitude and Absolute phase


E(x,t) = A cos[(k x t ) ]
A = Amplitude
= Absolute phase (or initial, constant phase) at x = 0, t =0

kx

Waves using complex numbers


So the electric field of an EM wave can be written:

E(x,t) = E0 cos(kx t )
Since exp(i) = cos() + i sin(), E(x,t) can also be written:

E(x,t) = Re { E0 exp[i(kx t )] }
Recall that the energy transferred by a wave (flux density) is
proportional to the square of the amplitude, i.e., E02. Only the interaction
of the wave with matter can alter the energy of the propagating wave.
Remote sensing exploits this modulation of energy.

Waves using complex amplitudes


We can let the amplitude be complex:

E(x,t) = E 0 exp[i(kx t )]
E(x,t) = [E 0 exp(i)] exp[i(kx t)]

Where the constant stuff is separated from the rapidly changing stuff.

The resulting "complex amplitude:


is constant in this case (as E 0 and are constant), which implies that the medium in which the
wave is propagating is nonabsorbing.

[E 0 exp(i)]

What happens to the wave amplitude upon interaction with matter?

Complex numbers simplify waves!


Adding waves of the same frequency, but different initial phase,
yields a wave of the same frequency.
This isn't so obvious using trigonometric functions, but it's easy
with complex exponentials:

Etot ( x, t ) E1 exp i (kx t ) E2 exp i (kx t ) E3 exp i (kx t )


%
%
%
%
( E1 E2 E3 ) exp i( kx t )
% % %
where all initial phases are lumped into E1, E2, and E3.

Vector fields
However, light is a 3D vector field.
A 3D vector field assigns a 3D vector (i.e., an arrow having both
direction and length) to each point in 3D space.
A light wave has both electric and magnetic 3D vector fields:

And it can propagate in any direction, and point in any direction in space.

The 3D wave equation for the electric field and its


solution
A light wave can propagate in any
direction in space. So we must allow
the space derivative to be 3D:

r2
2 E
E 2 0
t

r r
r r
r
whose solution is: E(x, y,z,t) = E0 exp(k"x) exp([i(k'x t)]

Where E0 is a constant, complex vector


r r
k
' +ik" is a complex wave vector the length of this
And k=

vector is inversely proportional to the wavelength of the wave.


Its magnitude is the angular wavenumber, k = 2/.

x= (x, y,z) is a position vector

The 3D wave equation for the electric field and its


solution

r r
r r
r
E(x, y,z,t) = E0 exp(k"x) exp([i(k'x t)]

The vector
is normal to planes of constant phase (and hence indicates the
k'
direction of propagation of wave crests)

k"

The vector
is normal to planes of constant amplitude. Note that these are not
necessarily parallel.

The
amplitude of the wave at location

r r

E exp(k"x)
is zero, then the medium is nonabsorbing, since the 0amplitude is
is now:

So if
constant

k"

EM propagation in homogeneous materials


The speed of an EM wave in free space is given by:

c=
=
00 k

0= permittivity of free space, = magnetic permeability of free space


To describe EM propagation in other media,two
properties of the medium
are important, its electric permittivity and magnetic permeability .
These are also complex parameters.
= 0(1+ ) + i = complex permittivity
= electric conductivity
= electric susceptibility (to polarization under the influence of an
external field)
Note that and also depend on frequency ().

EM propagation in homogeneous materials


In a non-vacuum, the wave must still satisfy Maxwells Equations:

v=
=
k
We can now define the complex index of refraction, N, as the ratio of
the wave velocity in free space to the velocity in the medium:

c
N=
=
or
00 v

N = nr + i ni

If the imaginary part of N is zero, the material is nonabsorbing, and v is


the phase velocity of the wave in the medium. For most physical media,
N > 1 (i.e., the speed of light is reduced relative to a vacuum).
NB. N is a property of a particular medium and also a function of

EM propagation in homogeneous materials


Relationships between the wave vector and the refractive index (these
are derived from Maxwells Equations):

nr 2
k =
=
c

ni 2ni
k=
=
c
c

Real part of wave vector


Imaginary part of wave vector

These are the so-called dispersion relations relating wavelength,


frequency, velocity and refractive index.

Absorption of EM radiation

Recall the expression for the flux density of an EM wave (Poynting


vector):

1
F = c0 E 2
2

When absorption occurs, the flux density of the absorbed frequencies is


reduced.

Absorption of EM radiation

The scalar amplitude of an EM wave at location

r r

xis: E0 exp(k"x)

From the expression for the flux density we have:

r r 2
r r
F = F0 [exp(k"x)] = F0 exp(2 k"x)

Absorption of EM radiation

Now substitute the expression for


And we have:

k:

ni 2ni
k=
=
c
c

4ni
F = F0 exp(
x)
c

For a plane wave propagating


in the x-direction.

Absorption coefficient and skin depth

4ni
F = F0 exp(
x) = F0 e
c
Where a is known as the absorption coefficient:

ax

4ni 4ni
=
c

The
quantity 1/a gives the distance required for the waves energy to be
attenuated to e-1 or ~37% of its original value, or the absorption/skin
depth. Its a function of frequency/wavelength.

Absorption coefficient and skin depth


Within a certain material, and EM wave with = 1 m is attenuated to
10% of its original intensity after propagating 1 cm. Determine the
imaginary part of the refractive index ni.

Refractive index (n) the dispersion equation

qe2
Nk
n =1+
2 2
20 m k k + ik
qe = charge on an electron
0 = electric constant
m = mass of an electron
Nk
= number of charges (oscillators) of type k per unit volume
= angular frequency of the EM radiation
k = resonant frequency of an electron bound in an atom
= damping coefficient for oscillator k (oscillation cannot be permanent)
What is the refractive index of visible light in air?
What happens as the frequency of EM radiation increases at constant k?
What happens if the resonant frequency is in the visible range?
What happens if > k? e.g., shine x-rays on glass, or radio waves on free
electrons.

Refractive index (n) of water and ice

Penetration depth of water and ice


(also called absorption depth or skin depth)