Understanding Frequency and Wavelength

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  • Gallaxial
    • December 2023
    • 7

    Understanding Frequency and Wavelength

    Understanding Frequency and Wavelength

    What is Frequency?

    The frequency of a waveform is the number of times a complete waveform is repeated in a fixed time period. The unit of frequency is Hz which corresponds to the number of waveforms that repeat in 1 second. So if a wave repeats 5 times in one second its frequency would be 5 Hz.

    What is Wavelength?

    The wavelength of a wave is the distance between two adjacent peaks or troughs of adjacent cycles. It is represented
    by lambda (λ)
    and has units of distance like meters, cm, mm etc. The wavelength applies to both traveling waves and standing waves. The Wavelength is inversely proportional to frequency.

    Relationship between frequency and wavelength

    In the case of traveling waves, the frequency of a wave is correlated to the wavelength of the wave and the speed at which the wave is traveling. If a wave is moving faster, the number of complete wave cycles that will complete in 1 second is higher than when compared to a slower wave. So the speed at which a wave is moving is a very important factor when determining its frequency.

    An important point to note is that two waves with different wavelengths can have the same frequency. So lets assume, that Wave 1 has a wavelength of 1 cm and Wave 2 has a wavelength of 2 cm. To have the same frequency, Wave 2 will need to travel at a speed that is 2 times Wave 1.