Why can’t longitudinal waves be polarized?

  • Thread starter madmike159
  • Start date
  • #1
madmike159
Gold Member
369
0

Main Question or Discussion Point

Why can’t longitudinal waves be polarized? I’m guessing its something to do with the particles oscillating in the same direction of propagation, but I can’t think of a explanation of why they can’t be polarized.
I have also been told that some transverse waves can’t be polarized. X-rays can but gamma can’t with current technology, is this because of the higher energy of gamma photons?
 
Last edited by a moderator:

Answers and Replies

  • #2
olgranpappy
Homework Helper
1,271
3
longitudinal waves are "polarized" in the direction of propagation. transverse waves are polarized perpindicular to the propagation direction, since there is more than one direction perp to the propagation direction there can be more than one transverse polarization and we can filter for either x, or y polarization... but that's not true for longitudinal.
 
  • #3
Andy Resnick
Science Advisor
Education Advisor
Insights Author
7,334
1,759
For electromagnetic radiation, 'polarization' refers to the direction of the electric field vector. Some EM waves do not have a well-defined polarization (optical vortices, near-field) for this reason. I suppose gamma waves could be polarized by grazing incidence methods, but I don't know enough about the technology.

Not sure about stress (longitudinal) waves. I suppose one could define a polarization direction if they are sufficiently well-behaved, but I'm not that familiar with the topic.
 

Related Threads for: Why can’t longitudinal waves be polarized?

  • Last Post
Replies
23
Views
1K
Replies
10
Views
2K
Replies
10
Views
4K
  • Last Post
Replies
6
Views
2K
  • Last Post
Replies
6
Views
5K
  • Last Post
Replies
8
Views
2K
  • Last Post
Replies
16
Views
10K
Replies
2
Views
2K
Top