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Plane Wave propogation dependent on space and timez

  1. Aug 21, 2013 #1
    Hi,

    I've been looking at some animations of plane waves, and I really cannot see why a plane wave's electric field is dependent on both t and z. Isn't z a function of t? I would've thought that z could be written in terms of t. Can it? Is there no link between z and t?

    $$
    \mathbf{E}(x,y,z;t) = \mathbf{E}_o e^{\jmath(\omega t - kz)}
    $$
     
  2. jcsd
  3. Aug 21, 2013 #2

    Nugatory

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    Staff: Mentor

    Pick a particular value of t and plug it in, and you'll have an equation in which z is the only variable; that is, you can use it to find out what the value of E will be at any point in space at that particular time.

    Conversely, pick a value of z and and plug it in, and you'll have an equation in which t is the only variable; that is, you can use it to find out what the value of E will be at that point in space at any time.

    Leave both z and t as independent variables and you have an equation which tells you what the value of E is at any time (pick your t value) and any place (pick your z value).
     
  4. Aug 24, 2013 #3
    Hi,
    In a plane wave, E is not plane, but the surface where all the points of the field are in phase is a plane. In the equation, if you pick a value of t, the phase is the same for a given value of z whatever x and y are : a plane.
     
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