Basics of Electromagnetic Radiation

Until 1873, electricity and magnetism were considered as two separate forces. James Clerk Maxwell, a Scottish physicist explained a theory known as electromagnetism. This theory is a combination of two separate forces. The production of electromagnetic radiation was a result of the electromagnetic field.

Electromagnetic radiation is referred to as the waves of the electromagnetic field that propagates through space. Radio waves, microwaves, gamma rays, infrared radiation, visible light, ultraviolet light, and X-rays are the different forms of electromagnetic radiation. 

What are Electromagnetic Interactions?

There are four major electromagnetic interactions, and they are as listed below:

  • The force of either attraction or repulsion between the electric charges is inversely proportional to the square of the distance between them.
  • Just like electric charges, magnetic poles are available in pairs, and they attract and repel each other. 
  • The direction of the magnetic field produced by the electric current is dependent on the direction of the current.
  • A moving electric field is capable enough to produce a magnetic field and the same is with the moving magnetic field.

Radio Waves

In the electromagnetic spectrum, radio waves are considered to be at the lowest range. The frequencies of the radio waves are between 30 billion hertz while the wavelengths are more than 10 millimeters.

The speed at which the radio waves travel is similar to the light. These waves travel over the surface of the earth and in space. The main application of radio waves is in communication which includes data, voice, and entertainment media. 


In the electromagnetic spectrum, the microwaves are in the range between the radio and infrared radiation. The frequency of the microwaves is between 3 GHz to 30 trillion hertz while the wavelength is 10 millimeters to 100 micrometers. High bandwidth communications use microwaves, and they are also used as the heat source in a microwave oven.


In the electromagnetic spectrum, the infrared is between the microwaves and the visible light. This light is invisible to the human eye. The frequency is between 30 THz to 400 THz. The wavelength of infrared radiation is 100 micrometers to 740 nanometers. This electromagnetic radiation finds application in security cameras.

Visible Light

In the electromagnetic spectrum, the visible light is between the infrared radiation and the ultraviolet light. This electromagnetic radiation is considered to be visible to human eyes as their frequencies are between 400 THz to 800 THz. The wavelength of the visible light is between 740 nanometers to 380 nanometers.


The ultraviolet light is found between the visible light and the X-rays in the electromagnetic spectrum. The wavelength of the ultraviolet light is between 380 nanometers to 10 nanometers. There are many medical advantages and applications of UV light. However, it is also considered to be harmful to the living tissues.

X-rays and Gamma Rays 

The X-rays are found between the UV light and the gamma rays while the gamma rays are found above the soft X-ray. Soft X-ray is one of the types of X-rays. The other type is hard X-ray. The difference between the X-rays and the gamma rays is that the production of X-rays takes place in the accelerating electrons whereas the gamma rays are produced by the atomic nuclei.

The phenomenon in which the electrically charged particles are released from the material when the material absorbs electromagnetic radiation is known as the photoelectric effect. Learn more about its examples and applications at BYJU’S. Also, subscribe to our YouTube channel for more information.