OCR AS Physics

Revision Notes

4.9.2 Graphical Representation of Superposition

Graphical Representation of Superposition

  • Superposition can be represented graphically
    • When two waves superpose, the wave seen is the resultant wave of them both
    • This is the principle of superposition
  • Complete constructive or destructive interference is seen most clearly when the two superposing wave have the same speed, frequency and amplitude
    • Although, any two waves, whether they are both longitudinal or transverse, can superpose

Superposition of stationary waves, downloadable AS & A Level Physics revision notes

A graphical representation of how superposition – the black line represents the resulting wave

Worked Example

Two overlapping waves of the same types travel in the same direction. The variation with x and y displacement of the wave is shown in the figure below.

Use the principle of superposition to sketch the resultant wave.

Worked example - superposition (2), downloadable AS & A Level Physics revision notes

Exam Tip

The best way to draw the superposition of two waves is to find where the superimposed wave has its maximum and minimum amplitudes. It is then a case of joining them up to form the wave. Where the waves intersect determines how much constructive or destructive interference will occur.

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