Dismiss Notice
Join Physics Forums Today!
The friendliest, high quality science and math community on the planet! Everyone who loves science is here!

Plane Electromagnetic wave

  1. Oct 6, 2008 #1
    A simple question

    How can one talk of a Plane Electromagnetic wave, when it moves within 3 dimensions, i.e. E and B?
  2. jcsd
  3. Oct 6, 2008 #2

    Andy Resnick

    User Avatar
    Science Advisor
    Education Advisor

    A "plane wave" is taken to mean a propogating electromagnetic wave that has flat planes as surfaces of constant phase. This implies that the direction of propogation is in a single direction (normal to the planes). As such, a plane wave is a nonphysical idealization of real electromagnetic waves which diffract.
Share this great discussion with others via Reddit, Google+, Twitter, or Facebook