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Electromagnetic Spectrum

Electromagnetic Spectrum

Author: Amanda Soderlind

This lesson will introduce the electromagnetic spectrum and the properties and uses of the waves it contains.

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The electromagnetic spectrum shows the complete range of all the types of electromagnetic waves in order of frequency. The electromagnetic spectrum is made up of radio waves, infrared waves, visible light, ultraviolet rays, x-rays and gamma rays.


Radio waves:

            Longest wavelength, lowest frequency

            Used to broadcast radio that you listen to

            Microwaves are types of radio waves used to cook food or use cell phones


Infrared rays:

            Heat you feel radiating off of things

            Used to make heat lamps or used to cook food on your stovetop


Visible light:

            Colors that we see are made up of visible light waves

            Different colors have different wavelengths

            White light is a mixture of all colors in the visible light spectrum


Ultraviolet rays (UV rays):

            Contain a lot of energy due to short wavelength

            Can damage cells if there is too much exposure

            Moderate amounts from the sun can aide in vitamin D production



            Can penetrate many types of matter because of higher amounts of energy

            Used in x-ray machines in the medical industry

            Also used in some engineering projects


Gamma rays:

            Shortest wavelength, highest frequency

            Used in medical industry to treat cancer


Source: Prentice Hall Science Explorer. Sound and Light. Copywright 2007 Pearson Education Inc.