7 Types of EM Waves By: Alex Norby

Radio Waves

Radio waves have the longest wavelengths in the EM spectrum, according to NASA, ranging from about 1 millimeter (0.04 inches) to more than 100 kilometers (62 miles). They also have the lowest frequencies, from about 3,000 cycles per second or 3 kilohertz (kHz) up to about 300 billion hertz, or 300 gigahertz (GHz).

Radio Waves are used for: Radios, cell phone towers, television. hand held radios.

The lowest frequency radio waves are also reflected from an electrically charged layer of the upper atmosphere, called the Ionosphere. This means that they can reach receivers that are not in the line of sight because of the curvature of the Earth's surface.


Microwaves are basically extremely high frequency radio waves, and are made by various types of transmitter.

Frequency of microwave is 300MHz to 300 GHz

Used in Microwave ovens, phones.

In a mobile phone, they're made by a transmitter chip and an antenna, in a microwave oven they're made by a "magnetron".


electromagnetic radiation of a particular wavelength or color that we have named 'infrared.' They are between 700 nm (nanometers) and 1 mm. Note that 1 mm is equal to 1,000,000 nanometers. They are just beyond what our eyes can detect on the red side of the rainbow.

Uses of infrared waves are: remote controls. television, blu-ray player, or even a computer. Infrared can be used in a similar way for communication.

Visible light

The wavelengths that are visible to most human eyes. The frequency of visible light is 380nm to 740nm. The most important characteristic of visible light is color. Color is both an inherent property of light and an artifact of the human eye.

The Uses : Cones in our eyes are receivers for these tiny visible light waves. The Sun is a natural source for visible light waves and our eyes see the reflection of this sunlight off the objects around us.

Ultra violate

light has shorter wavelengths than visible light. Though these waves are invisible to the human eye, some insects, like bumblebees, can see them.

Frequncy of uv: 10nm to 400nm.

Used for: Hospitals use UV lamps to sterilize surgical equipment and the air in operating theaters. Food and drug companies also use UV lamps to sterilize their products. Suitable doses of Ultraviolet rays cause the body to produce vitamin D, and this is used by doctors to treat vitamin D deficiency and some skin disorders.


X-rays are a very energetic form of electromagnetic radiation that can be used to take images of the human body. The frequency of xray is .01 to 10 nm.

Uses of X-ray: photographs of bones which can be checked for breaks or fractures. X-rays have the following properties: they can penetrate less dense matter such as skin and body tissue.

Gamma Rays

The smallest wavelengths and the most energy of any other wave in the electromagnetic spectrum. These waves are generated by radioactive atoms and in nuclear explosions.

The Frequency of gamma rays: grater than 10^19 hz. The uses of gamma rays beta particles are all used in medicine to treat internal organs.They are also used to cure cancer in humans.

The EM Spectrum

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