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Introduction to Electromagnetic Spectrum

Electromagnetic waves are energy waves that have both electric and magnetic fields. When these
electromagnetic waves are classified according to their increasing order of wavelength (or
decreasing order of frequency), they form the electromagnetic spectrum. Since these waves have
energy they are also called electromagnetic radiation.
The different wave types are Gamma Rays, X-Rays, Ultraviolet Rays, Visible Light Rays,
Infrared Rays, Microwaves and Radio Waves. Each of these waves have different properties and
uses, based on their wave characteristics like amplitude, wavelength, velocity, frequency and
period. The waves have been named according to the range of their wavelengths (or frequencies).
The only region of this spectrum which is sensitive to our eyes are the visible light rays which
range from near ultraviolet to far infrared, and therefore we can see the waves in this region.
Gamma rays, X-Rays and UV Rays have short wavelengths while infrared, microwaves and
radio waves have longer wavelengths.
It is not possible to pinpoint exact wavelengths of these radiations but they span over a range.
The table below summaries ranges of these radiations.

Electromagnetic Spectrum Wavelength Range (m)

Gamma Rays below 10-12

X Rays 10-12 to 10-9

Ultraviolet Rays 10-9 to 4 x 10-7

Visible Light 4 x 10-7 to 7 x 10-7

Infrared Radiation 7.1 x 10-7 to 0.001

Microwaves 0.001 to 0.1

Radio Waves above 0.1


Elements of a Communication system
Different bands in Radio spectrum
Radio spectrums can be divided further into 9 bands depending on their frequency and
wavelength ranges as follows
Extremely Low Frequency (ELF)
Frequency Range: less than 3kHz
Wavelength Range: greater than 100km
Very Low Frequency (VLF)
Frequency Range: 3kHz to 30 kHz
Wavelength Range: 10km to 100km
Low Frequency (LF)
Frequency Range: 30 kHz to 300 kHz
Wavelength Range: 1km to 10km
Medium Frequency (MLF)
Frequency Range: 300kHz to 3MHz
Wavelength Range: 100m to 1km
High Frequency (HF)
Frequency Range: 3MHz to 30 MHz
Wavelength Range: 10m to 100m
Very High Frequency (VHF)
Frequency Range: 30 MHz to 300 MHz
Wavelength Range: 1m to 10m
Ultra High Frequency (UHF)
Frequency Range: 300 MHz to 3GHz
Wavelength Range: 10cm to 1m
Super High Frequency (SHF)
Frequency Range: 3GHz to 30 GHz
Wavelength Range: 1cm to 10cm
Extremely High Frequency (SHF)
Frequency Range: 30 GHz to 300 GHz
Wavelength Range: 1mm to 1cm