Electromagnetic waves are something that people rarely think about, yet a medium that surrounds us at every waking moment of the day.
This isn’t just the case when experimenting with magnets, and magnetic fields in a science class – the energy of all forms falls somewhere on the electromagnetic spectrum, which encapsulates everything from the lowest energy, longest wavelength waves such as radio waves and infrared radiation, to highly powerful, potentially dangerous wavelengths such as x-rays and gamma rays.
Energy sitting in the mid wavelengths is perceived by humans as visible light – the energy that allows us to see and navigate our way through the world – so it truly is everywhere you look.
The fact that electromagnetic waves of varying energy levels manifest in either longer or shorter wavelengths means that they inherently have different qualities and interact with matter in a range of different ways, all of which could potentially be utilized by humans in a technological capacity.
While you might be familiar with common applications of electromagnetic waves, such as broadcasting information via radio waves and scanning patients for broken bones with x-rays, there are endless other exciting applications of electromagnetic waves that are not so known.
Quality Control Processes
One fascinating way in which electromagnetic waves are utilized outside of familiar circles is in industrial quality control processes.
In the modern age, society is dominated by consumer products, and before these consumer products reach customers and the shelves, it’s critical for companies to ensure that the quality of manufacturing is as high as it possibly can be. With so much competition from rival companies, a reputation for shoddy manufacturing could quickly see sales plummet.
With this in mind, manufacturing companies utilize technologies such as an XRF analyzer to detect even the most minute errors produced during the manufacturing process. XRF technology, short for x-ray fluorescence spectroscopy, is a method that uses x-rays to agitate a sample and determine the elemental composition, perfect for spotting unwanted impurities and measuring particulates down to the nanometer scale.
As mentioned previously, an application of electromagnetic waves that most people are familiar with is using x-rays to diagnose broken bones and other ailments. However, this is far from the only application of electromagnetic waves in medical settings, as a whole host of different frequencies are utilized in biomedical imaging processes to achieve the best results for specific situations.
An example of utilizing the varying properties of different energy intensities and frequencies is in the widespread use of MRI scanning or Magnetic Resonance Imaging. MRI scanners are a critically important tool for medical professionals, which utilize powerful magnetic fields to image any part of the body.
Electromagnetic waves currently form the vast majority of our communications infrastructure, from radio waves and infrared broadcasting audio and video to the ability to connect to and share messages on the internet.
However, our understanding of how to utilize various frequencies for communication has continued to develop over time, meaning it’s likely that in the near future, frequencies will be utilized in a new way. For example, 5G is a recent innovation in the data connection field, utilizing shorter wavelengths to transfer more information per second.