Radio Waves vs Microwaves
Radio waves and microwaves are two types of electromagnetic waves with relatively long wavelengths. Radio waves are mostly used in the communication field whereas microwaves are used in industries and astronomy. The applications of radio waves and microwaves are not limited to the above mentioned fields. In this article, we are going to discuss what radio waves and microwaves are, the definitions of radio waves and microwaves, their applications, the similarities between radio waves and microwaves, and finally the difference between radio waves and microwaves.
In order to understand the radio waves or any other type of electromagnetic waves, one must first understand the concept of electromagnetic waves itself. Electromagnetic waves, more commonly known as EM waves, were first proposed by James Clerk Maxwell. This was later confirmed by Heinrich Hertz who successfully produced the first EM wave. Maxwell derived the wave form for electric and magnetic waves and successfully predicted the speed of these waves. Since this wave velocity was equal to the experimental value of speed of light, Maxwell also proposed that light was, in fact, a form of EM waves.
Electromagnetic waves have both an electric field and a magnetic field oscillating perpendicular to each other and perpendicular to the direction of wave propagation. All electromagnetic waves have the same velocity in vacuum. The frequency of the electromagnetic wave decides the energy stored in it. Later it was shown using quantum mechanics that these waves are, in fact, packets of waves. The energy of this packet depends on the frequency of the wave.
Electromagnetic waves are classified into several regions according to their energy. X-rays, ultraviolet, infrared, visible, radio waves are to name a few of them. A spectrum is the plot of intensity versus energy of the electromagnetic rays. Radio waves are the electromagnetic waves that lie in the region of 300 GHz to 3 kHz. Radio waves are widely used as envelope signals on radio communication and wavelength channel to observe astronomical objects.
Microwaves are a type of radio waves with short frequencies. It can be classified as a subclass of radio waves. The frequency of microwaves lies in the 300GHz to 300MHz. Microwaves are widely used in microwave ovens as the resonant frequency of water molecules lies in the microwave region. Microwaves are also used in RADARs, astronomy, navigation and spectroscopy.
What is the difference between Radio Waves and Microwaves?
• Microwaves are a sub-class of radio waves.
• The frequency of radio waves can take values from 300 GHz to 3 kHz, but microwaves are defined to have frequencies ranging from 300 GHz to only 300 MHz.
• Radio waves in general have long distance communication capabilities, but microwaves do not have these abilities.
• Radio waves are mostly used in the communication field whereas microwaves are used in industries and astronomy.