# Frequency of the polarization of light

1. Jan 27, 2012

### edguy99

"Frequency" of the polarization of light

You often see the polarization of light represented this way:

Unfortunately, the axis is seldom labeled in this type of animation. I assume the horizontal axis is meant to represent space or time. The question I have is "Does the fluctuation frequency of the electrical field match the wave length of the photon?"

To be a little clearer, if you have a photon with quite a long wavelenth (say microwave at 21cm), the wavelength represents the changing probability of things like the photon being reflected when it hits a surface. I assume that the magnetic/electrical fluctuation represented by this picture happens much faster over a much shorter distance then 21cm.

Is that assumption correct, or does the electrical/magnetic fluctuation rate of the photon match its frequency?

2. Jan 27, 2012

### Drakkith

Staff Emeritus
Re: "Frequency" of the polarization of light

To my knowledge the wavelength is the distance that the light travels in 1 cycle of its changing electric and magnetic fields while the frequency is how many times it switches per second.

3. Jan 27, 2012

### DaveC426913

Re: "Frequency" of the polarization of light

Wiki actually has some pretty good animations on this:

One cycle of the oscillating magnetic or electric field is one wavelength, yes. Frequency is 1/wavelength.

4. Jan 27, 2012

### Antiphon

Re: "Frequency" of the polarization of light

Wavelength in free space (meters per cycle) * frequency (Hz : cycles per second) = c (speed of light in meters per second)

5. Jan 28, 2012

### edguy99

Re: "Frequency" of the polarization of light