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Vibrations and Waves

Periodic Motion
Motion that repeats themselves over and over
again at equal intervals of time.

Hookes Law
Fs = - k x
Fs is the spring force
k is the spring constant
It is a measure of the stiffness of the spring
A large k indicates a stiff spring and a small k indicates a
soft spring

x is the displacement of the object from its

equilibrium position
x = 0 at the equilibrium position

The negative sign indicates that the force is

always directed opposite to the displacement

Simple Harmonic Motion

Motion that occurs when the net force along the
direction of motion obeys Hookes Law
The force is proportional to the displacement and always
directed toward the equilibrium position

The motion of a spring mass system is an example

of Simple Harmonic Motion

Spring- Mass System

When a body is displaced from
its equilibrium position, the
spring force tends to restore it
to equilibrium. (Restoring Force)

Amplitude, Period, Frequency and Angular Frequency

Amplitude - denoted by A, is the maximum magnitude of
displacement from equilibrium. (SI unit is in m)
Period is the time to complete one cycle say from A to
A and back to A. (SI unit is in seconds)
Frequency is the number of cycles per unit time. (SI unit is
in hertz)
Angular Frequency denoted by , is equal to 2. It
represents the rate of change of an angular quantity


We encounter waves in many situations

Speech and hearing rely on wave propagation.

Modern telecommunications networks such as mobile
phones rely on waves.
Many key areas of Physics, Mathematics and Chemistry
are best described by waves and their interactions.
The way atoms bind together to form molecules can be
understood by the overlap of waves.

Types of waves

There are several different types of wave that we must consider.

Mechanical Waves:- These need a medium to propagate in - sound


Non-mechanical waves:-These waves do not need a medium in which

to propagate - light waves.

Matter waves:- Particles such as protons and electrons can be

treated as waves. This forms the basis of quantum mechanics. We will
not be discussing this type of wave in this course.

Examples of Mechanical Waves

Earthquake / seismic waves
Water waves
Sound waves
Waves that travel down a spring or rope

Nature of Waves

1. A wave is a traveling disturbance.

2. A wave carries energy from place to place.

Nature of Waves

Longitudinal Wave

Nature of Waves

Transverse Wave



(Long + Trans

Periodic Waves

Periodic waves consist of cycles or patterns that are produced over and
over again by the source.
In the figures, every segment of the slinky vibrates in simple harmonic
motion, provided the end of the slinky is moved in simple harmonic

Periodic Waves

In the drawing, one cycle is shaded in color.

The period is the time required for one complete cycle.

The frequency is related to the period and has units of Hz, or s-1.
The angular frequency is the rate of change of an angular quantity.



= 2f

= 2/

Graphing Wave Functions

Amplitude A is
the maximum
excursion of a
particle of the
medium from
the particles


is the horizontal
length of one
cycle of the

The distance between the crest of a water wave and the
next trough is 2 m. If the frequency of a particular wave is 2
Hz, what is the speed of the wave?
(a) 4 m/s
(b) 1 m/s
(c) 8 m/s
(d) 2 m/s
(e) impossible to determine from the information given

Find the amplitude, wavelength, speed and period of the wave if

it has a frequency of 8.00 Hz. x = 40.0 cm, y = 15.0 cm

A wave with a frequency of 12.3 Hz is traveling from left to right

across a rope as shown in the diagram at the right Positions A and B
in the diagram are separated by a horizontal distance of 42.8 cm.
Positions C and D in the diagram are separated by a vertical distance
of 12.4 cm. Determine the amplitude, wavelength, period and speed of
this wave.

During wave motion, the particle

are displaced some distance y in
the direction perpendicular to the
The motion of the particle on the
right lags behind the motion of the
particle on the left by an amount of
time proportional to the distance
between the particles.


Particle Velocity and Acceleration in a

Sinusoidal Wave

A disturbance can propagate as a wave along the xaxis with wave speed v.
Electric and Magnetic fields satisfy the wave equation,
the wave speed turns out to be the speed of light.

At which time is point A on the

string moving upward with
maximum speed?
At which time does point B on
the string have the greatest
upward acceleration?
At which time does point C on
the string have a downward
acceleration but an upward

Energy in Wave Motion

Power is the instantaneous rate at which energy is
transferred along the string. (It depends on x and t)
For a sinusoidal wave (sine function), the power is either
positive or zero.
Energy is transferred to the direction of wave

What happens to power if frequency is doubled for the

same amplitude?
Power is quadrupled.

Ans. A = 4.51 x10-3

Wave Intensity
The time average rate at which energy is transported by
the wave per unit area, across a surface perpendicular to
the direction of propagation.
SI Unit : W/m2 (watts per square meter)

Wave Reflection

The boundary conditions play a role in wave reflections.

Interference of Waves
Two traveling waves can meet and pass through each
other without being destroyed or even altered
Waves obey the Superposition Principle
When two or more traveling waves encounter each other while
moving through a medium, the resulting wave is found by adding
together the displacements of the individual waves point by point
Actually only true for waves with small amplitudes

Standing Waves on a String

It is called a standing wave
because the wave pattern
remains in the same position
along the string and its
amplitude fluctuates.
Nodes points that never
move at all
Antinodes points where the
amplitude of motion is

The picture on the left is a

travelling wave. The wave
does move along the string,
with a speed equal to the
wave speed.

Standing Waves
A standing wave does not
transfer Energy from one end
to the other.
The two waves that form
it would individually carry
equal amounts of power
in opposite direction.

A standing wave can only

exist if its wavelength satisfies

Fundamental Frequencies, Harmonics and


o This is the fundamental frequency. The smallest frequency that corresponds

to the largest wavelength 2L.
o The other frequencies, f2, f3, f4, . Are all multiple integer multiples of the
fundamental frequency. These frequencies are called harmonics. (shown

o f2, f3, f4 and so on are what musicians call overtones. The second harmonic
f2 is called the first overtone.