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 Designation
Frequency (Hz)
Wavelength
Applications
Audible
20 Hz -­ 20 kHz
>100 km
Acoustics
Extremely Low Frequency (ELF) Radio
30 Hz -­ 300 Hz
10,000 km -­ 1,000 km
Electronics, Submarine Communications
Infralow Frequency (ILF)
300 Hz – 3 kHz
1,000 km -­ 100 km
Not Applicable
Very Low Frequency (VLF) Radio
3 kHz -­ 30 kHz
100 km -­ 10 km
Navigation, Weather
Low Frequency (LF) Radio
30 kHz -­ 300 kHz
10 km -­ 1 km
Navigation, Maritime Communications, Information and Weather Systems, Time Systems
Medium Frequency (MF) Radio
300 kHz -­ 3 MHz
1 km – 100 m
Navigation, AM Radio, Mobile Radio
High Frequency (HF) Radio
3 MHz – 30 MHz
100 – 10 m
Citizens Band (CB) Radio (aka Shortwave Radio), Mobile Radio, Maritime Radio
Very High Frequency (VHF) Radio
30 MHz -300 MHz
10 m -­ 1 m
Amateur (Ham) Radio, VHF TV, FM Radio, Mobile Satellite, Mobile Radio, Fixed Radio
Ultra High Frequency (UHF) Radio
300 MHz -­ 3 GHz
1 m -­ 10 cm
Microwave, Satellite, UHF TV, Paging, Cordless Telephone, Cellular and PCS Telephony, Wireless LAN (e.g., WiFi)
Super High Frequency (SHF) Radio
3 GHz -­ 30 GHz
10 cm – 1 cm
Microwave, Satellite, Wireless LAN (e.g., WiFi)
Extremely High Frequency (EHF) Radio
30 GHz -­ 300 GHz
1 cm -­ 1 mm
Microwave, Satellite, Radiolocation
Infrared Light (IR)
300 GHz – 400 THz
1 mm -­ 750 nm
Wireless LAN Bridges, Wireless LANs, Fiber Optics
Visible Light
400 THz – 1 PHz
750 nm -­ 380 nm
Not Applicable
Ultraviolet Light (UV)
1 PHz – 30 PHz
380 nm -10 nm
Not Applicable
X-Rays
30 PHz -­ 30 EHz
10 nm -­ .01 nm
Not Applicable
Gamma and Cosmic Rays
>3 EHz
<.1 nm
Not Applicable