What is Wavelength

Horace He

Last Updated: October 16, 2023

What is Wavelength

Wavelength is the distance between two successive crests or troughs of a wave. It is a fundamental concept in understanding the behavior of light and is crucial in various aspects of lighting design and technology. In the lighting industry, light is often described as propagating through free space in the form of transverse waves. These waves consist of oscillating photons, and the direction of motion of the wave is perpendicular to the direction of oscillation of the photons. Wavelength is a key characteristic of these waves and is represented by the symbol λ (lambda).

The measurement of wavelength can be done between two successive crests or two successive troughs of the wave. A crest refers to the highest point of the wave, while a trough refers to the lowest point. We can determine the wavelength of the wave by measuring the distance between these points.

Wavelength is typically expressed in units of nanometers (nm) or micrometers (µm). Nanometers are commonly used for visible light, while micrometers are often used for infrared and ultraviolet light. These units represent the length of one complete cycle of the wave, from one crest to the next or from one trough to the next.

Wavelength determines the color of light. Different wavelengths of light correspond to different colors in the visible spectrum. For example, light with a wavelength of around 400-450 nm appears blue, while light with a wavelength of around 600-700 nm appears red.

Wavelength also affects the behavior of light when it interacts with different materials. When light passes through a medium, such as a lens or a prism, its wavelength can be altered, leading to phenomena like refraction and dispersion. These effects are utilized in various lighting applications, such as lens design and the creation of colorful lighting effects.

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