The Electromagnetic Spectrum

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The Electromagnetic Spectrum is the full range of all possible Electromagnetic Radiation (EMF) frequencies. With electronic devices, we are most interested in the non-ionizing radiation spectrum.

Electromagnetic Spectrum

Electromagnetic energy is radiation defined as Frequency (F) or Wavelength (W) (the inverse of frequency). The Frequency (F) spectrum starts close to zero (0) and can extend to infinity. The Wavelength (W) spectrum also starts around zero and extends to infinity, in reverse.

The following identifies frequency band designations, nominal frequency ranges, nominal wavelengths, and application uses.

Band DesignationFrequency (Hz)1Wavelength2Applications
Audible20 Hz -­ 20 kHz>100 kmAcoustics
Extremely Low Frequency (ELF) Radio30 Hz -­ 300 Hz10,000 km -­ 1,000 kmElectronics, Submarine Communications
Infralow Frequency (ILF)300 Hz – 3 kHz1,000 km -­ 100 kmNot Applicable
Very Low Frequency (VLF) Radio3 kHz -­ 30 kHz100 km -­ 10 kmNavigation, Weather
Low Frequency (LF) Radio30 kHz -­ 300 kHz10 km -­ 1 kmNavigation, Maritime Communications, Information and Weather Systems, Time Systems
Medium Frequency (MF) Radio300 kHz -­ 3 MHz1 km – 100 mNavigation, AM Radio, Mobile Radio
High Frequency (HF) Radio3 MHz – 30 MHz100 – 10 mCitizens Band (CB) Radio (aka Shortwave Radio), Mobile Radio, Maritime Radio
Very High Frequency (VHF) Radio30 MHz -300 MHz10 m -­ 1 mAmateur (Ham) Radio, VHF TV, FM Radio, Mobile Satellite, Mobile Radio, Fixed Radio
Ultra High Frequency (UHF) Radio300 MHz -­ 3 GHz1 m -­ 10 cmMicrowave, Satellite, UHF TV, Paging, Cordless Telephone, Cellular and PCS Telephony, Wireless LAN (e.g., WiFi)
Super High Frequency (SHF) Radio3 GHz -­ 30 GHz10 cm – 1 cmMicrowave, Satellite, Wireless LAN (e.g., WiFi)
Extremely High Frequency (EHF) Radio30 GHz -­ 300 GHz1 cm -­ 1 mmMicrowave, Satellite, Radiolocation
Infrared Light (IR)300 GHz – 400 THz1 mm -­ 750 nmWireless LAN Bridges, Wireless LANs, Fiber Optics
Visible Light400 THz – 1 PHz750 nm -­ 380 nmNot Applicable
Ultraviolet Light (UV)1 PHz – 30 PHz380 nm -10 nmNot Applicable
X-Rays30 PHz -­ 30 EHz10 nm -­ .01 nmNot Applicable
Gamma and Cosmic Rays>3 EHz<.1 nmNot Applicable

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