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Properties of Waves


A wave is a different concept when we compared with the particle. The propagation is also different in both cases. Waves can transfer energy without transferring the matter through a medium. In a wave motion, a medium is required; it can be solid, liquid or gas. A common example of wave is ripples on the water surface.


The different properties of a wave are listed below:
  • Amplitude
  • Wavelength
  • Frequency
  • Period
  • Speed
The details about each one is described in detail.

Amplitude of a wave is explained as the maximum displacement or distance of a wave from its equilibrium position. It is measured in meters. The figure illustrates the amplitude of a wave.

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Wavelength of a Wave

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Wavelength is an important basic property of a wave. It is given by the distance between the peaks of two crests. A wave consists of crest and trough. The upper part is a crest whereas the lower part is trough. Wavelength is denoted as $\lambda$ and is measured in meter. The given figure gives a clear picture about wavelength of a wave.


Frequency of a Wave

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Frequency of a wave is given as the number of complete cycle per second. If T is the time period for one complete cycle, then the frequency is given by,

f = $\frac{1}{T}$
Frequency is denoted as f or $\nu$ and it is measured in Hz.
It is given as the time required to complete one cycle or the time required to complete one oscillation. It is denoted by T. From the above formula, T can be calculated as,

T = $\frac{1}{f}$
Period is measured in seconds.
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Speed of a Wave

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Speed (velocity) of a wave is given by the distance traveled in one second. It is expressed in terms of frequency or period and wavelength. The equation is given by,
v = $\frac{\lambda }{T}$

Here, the distance traveled is nothing but the wavelength
v = f$\lambda$