2. Wave Motion

Mechanical waves (Elastic waves)

Waves that require a medium for their propagation are called mechanical waves or elastic waves. The particles of the medium execute periodic motion about a mean position when the wave propagates through the medium.

For Example, waves on a string

A mechanical wave is produced due to a disturbance at a point in a medium.

  • The disturbed particle interacts with the neighbouring particle and its energy is handed over to the next particle (due to the inertia of the medium).
  • The disturbed particles return to the equilibrium position (due to the elasticity of medium).

Properties of Medium for Mechanical Wave Propagation

  • The medium must possess inertia so that its particles can store kinetic energy.
  • The medium must possess elasticity.
  • The minimum frictional force between the particles of the medium.

Non-Mechanical Waves

Waves which do not require a medium for their propagation are called a non-mechanical wave. These types of waves can propagate through vacuum also. These are transverse in nature. For example, electromagnetic waves and matter waves.

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