1. Nov 5, 2012

Eagle9

When the electromagnetic wave propagates in air and it meets the object with the size less than the wavelength then this wave simply pass around this object and continues its way as if this object does not exist at all.
Now imagine such situation. The antenna emit the radio waves with the wavelength of let’s say 1 meter and it meet the metallic cylinder with the height/length of 100 meters but width/diameter of 0.1 meter. What will happen? One geometric parameter (cylinder’s length) is more than wavelength, but the second (width) is less, will the radio wave pass around this cylinder or will it reflect from cylinder?

2. Nov 5, 2012

sophiecentaur

The effect of this cylinder on a passing wave will depend upon the polarisation. If the E field is at right angles to the axis of the cylinder, there will be very little effect but if the polarisation (E Field) is parallel with the wave the scattering can be significant. The amount of the scattered power (and, hence the effect on the incident wave front) will depend on the actual length of the cylinder in wavelengths.
A conductor of any size will have some effect on an incident wave so there will always some degree of diffraction - certainly a half wavelength wire behaves like a plate with cross section of about 1/2 by 1/2 wavelengths when the polarisation is parallel to the wire.

3. Nov 5, 2012

Meir Achuz

"When the electromagnetic wave propagates in air and it meets the object with the size less than the wavelength then this wave simply pass around this object and continues its way as if this object does not exist at all."

This is not true. The wave would scatter.

4. Nov 5, 2012

Andy Resnick

Where did you get this idea? It's clearly false- the subwavelength object will scatter the incident radiation, well described by Rayleigh scattering (The mechanism for the sky appearing blue).

5. Nov 6, 2012

sophiecentaur

It's the sort of thing that they get told at School as a throw-away remark, I expect.

6. Nov 6, 2012

andrien

When the size of object is comparable to wavelength ,then one must take into account the interaction.However if the object is of much bigger size,then ray optics will do the work(it is worth noting that there are three criterias)

7. Nov 6, 2012

sophiecentaur

It's hard to say when scattering due to small 'obstacles' may or may not be a problem. It's situation specific.

8. Nov 7, 2012

Eagle9

Meir Achuz
Andy Resnick
sophiecentaur
I learnt Physics in school only and not in the university, besides English is not my native language, so perhaps I made a mistake when writing this:

Now:
So, if the E field is parallel to cylinder then this cylinder will be able to scatter that wave and hence some detector (radio receiver or something like this) will be able to “see” the object/cylinder, right? Did I understand everything correctly?

But what happens if we have got the cylinder made of plastics? This substance is insulator, not conductor

Andy Resnick
Well, than tell me-why the optical microscopes cannot see the objects with the size less than wavelength of the light? Why do we need to use the electric microscopes?

andrien
May I know which ones?

9. Nov 7, 2012

andrien

The three criterias are simply for the fields,the zones in which one is important.First is if the object size is <λ,second is between λ and object size and third you know which one.

10. Nov 7, 2012

Andy Resnick

Your questions are unrelated. One question concerns wave propagation in an inhomogeneous medium, while the other concerns imaging. Consider- fluorescent molecules are much smaller than the wavelength of light they emit.

Additionally, there are imaging methods that can image (as opposed to detect) sub-wavelength sized objects: near-field scanning, for example. Other techniques can localize single fluorescent molecules to volumes much less than the Abbe limit: STORM, for example.