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Maxwell's Equations Wave Equations Static Fields Electric Fields Magnetic Fields

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Wave Equations
A complete solution of Maxwell's equations without any simplifying assumptions leads to the well
known Wave Equations. These can be derived in terms of either electric or magnetic field variables.
The derivations followed here assume isotropic linear materials, allowing material quantities to be
removed from vector operators.
Starting with the magnetic curl equation:

and taking the curl of each side, then substituting using constitutive equations

Assuming isotropic materials and substituting using the electric curl equation

Now, from Gauss' law, the divergence of magnetic flux density is zero, so assuming homogeneous

which leads to

A similar result is obtained is the electric curl equation is used as the start point

The wave equations as written above are required for the solution of high frequency fields in
uniform materials. Examples include waveguides and microwaves. The finite element approach can
be applied to these subject area as for other areas of EM theory. However, the majority of cases
studied in this course can make use of simplifying assumptions. Prior to moving on to those special
cases, it is instructive to introduce the idea of magnetic vector potential and electric scalar potential
at this time, and to develop the wave equations in terms of these variables.
Magnetic Vector Potential and Electric Scalar Potential
Beginning with the vector identity

and Gauss' law for the divergence of magnetic flux density

it is possible to introduce a magnetic vector potential, such that

substituting this definition in to the electric curl equation gives

Now, using the identity

an electric scalar potential may be defined such that

Wave equations in terms of potentials

Again, beginning with the magnetic curl equation

it is possible to substitute for magnetic field intensity in terms of magnetic vector potential, and to
substitute for both current density and electric flux density in terms of magnetic vector potential and
electric scalar potential:


Using the curl identity

results in the full wave equation for inhomogeneous media

In the case of uniform magnetic properties, the equation reduces to

Choice of Gauge for MVP

In the equations above, the divergence of the magnetic vector potential is yet to be defined. There
are a number of possible options for this definition

Coulomb Gauge

The Coulomb Gauge is commonly used and make sense for many problems, especially static
or quasi-static conditions. In these cases, the time rate of change of electric scalar potential
may be neglected. A Coulomb Gauge has the added advantage that the normal component of
magnetic vector potential is continuous at material boundaries
Diffusion Gauge

The diffusion gauge eliminates the time-dependent voltage terms from the magnetic vector
potential equations
Lorenz Gauge
The Lorenz Gauge eliminates the right hand side of the wave equation. Substituting this
definition in Gauss Electric law for diffusion of electric flux, two independent wave functions
are obtained:

Andy Knight (mailto:andy.knight@ucalgary.ca)