5. Types of Waves

Mechanical Wave

  • A mechanical wave is a wave that is an oscillation of matter and is responsible for the transfer of energy through a medium.
  • The distance of the wave’s propagation is limited by the medium of transmission. In this case, the oscillating material moves about a fixed point, and there is very little translational motion. One intriguing property of mechanical wave is the way they are measured, which is given by displacement divided by wavelength. When this dimensionless factor is 1, it results in the generation of harmonic effects; for example, waves break on the beach when this factor exceeds 1, resulting in turbulence.

There are two types of mechanical waves:

  • Longitudinal waves – In this type of wave, the movement of the particle are parallel to the motion of the energy i.e. the displacement of the medium is in the same direction to which the wave is moving. Example – Sound Waves, Pressure Waves.
  • Transverse waves –  When the movement of the particles is at right angles or perpendicular to the motion of the energy, then this type of wave is known as Transverse wave.  Light is an example of a transverse wave. Some of the other examples are – ‘Polarized’ waves & Electromagnetic waves.
Types of Waves

Water waves are an example of a combination of both longitudinal and transverse motions.

  • Surface waves – In this type, the particles travel in a circular motion.  These waves usually occur at interfaces. Waves in the ocean and ripples in a cup of water are examples of such waves.

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