OCR AS Physics

Revision Notes

4.6.3 The Wave Equation

The Wave Equation

  • The wave equation links the speed, frequency and wavelength of a wave
  • This is relevant for both transverse and longitudinal waves

 

Wave equation, downloadable AS & A Level Physics revision notes

  • The wave equation shows that for a wave of constant speed:
    • As the wavelength increases, the frequency decreases
    • As the wavelength decreases, the frequency increases

 

Frequency and wavelength, downloadable AS & A Level Physics revision notes

The relationship between frequency and wavelength of a wave

Worked Example

The wave in the diagram below has a speed of 340 m s–1.

WE - Wave equation question image, downloadable AS & A Level Physics revision notes

What is the wavelength of the wave?

Worked example - wave equation, downloadable AS & A Level Physics revision notes

Exam Tip

You may also see the wave equation be written as c = where c is the wave speed.

However, c is often used to represent a specific speed ー the speed of light (3 × 108 m s-1). Only electromagnetic waves travel at this speed, therefore it’s best practice to use v for any speed that isn’t the speed of light instead.

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