Types of Waves

All waves:

  • Transfer energy
  • Are created by vibrations
  • Need a material to travel through

Mechanical waves:

  • Must have a material to travel through

Electromagnetic waves:

  • Can travel through a vaccum
  • Travel at the speed of light
  • Made by vibrating electric and magnetic fields
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Transverse & Longitudinal Waves

Transverse waves:

  • The vibrations causing the wave are perpendicular to the direction of energy transfer
  • All electromagnetic waves are transverse
  • Water waves are transverse

Longitudinal waves:

  • The vibrations causing the wave are parallel to the direction of energy transfer
  • Sound waves are longitudinal
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Describing Waves

Frequency: Number of waves passing a point in 1 second, measured in Hz. The higher the frequency, the higher the pitch

Amplitude: The maximum distance from the mid position. The higher the amplitude, the louder the sound

Wavelength: The distance between 2 equivalent points on neighbouring waves

Wavespeed ( m/s ) = Frequency ( Hz ) x Length ( m )


Wavespeed ( v ) = Frequency ( f ) x Length 

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Reflection of Waves

Reflecting Light:

  • i / A. O. I = Angle of incidence
  • r / A. O. R = Angle of reflection
  • The A.O.R is very similar, if not identical to the A.O.I
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Properties of an Image // Ray Diagrams

Properties of an Image in a PLANE MIRROR:

  • Virtual
  • Same size & distance from mirror
  • Upright, Inline with object

Constructing a ray diagram:

  • Draw the image the same distance from the object
  • Draw rays from the image to the eye, making sure the rays enter the eye
  • Draw the reflected ray
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Refraction of Waves

When the light passes from a less dense material-eg. air, to a more dense material- glass, it bends TOWARDS the normal

If the light passes from a more dense to less dense, it bends AWAY from the normal

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White Light // Diffraction Of Waves

When white light is dispersed, the different colours refract by different amounts(http://images.tutorvista.com/cms/images/38/dispersion-of-white-light.gif)


Waves spread out when they pass through a narrow enough gap or obstruction

Maximum diffraction: Gap size is the same as the wavelength

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  • The average human can hear between 20 and 20 000 Hz
  • Soundwaves are longitudinal
  • Must have a medium to travel through
  • The denser the material, the faster the soundwave
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