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Transverse Nature of Electromagnetic Wave

Electromagnetic waves are transverse in nature: (Proof)

The general solution of the wave equation for the electric field and magnetic field are respectively given below

$\overrightarrow{E}= E_{\circ} e^{i(\overrightarrow{k}. \overrightarrow{r} - \omega t)} \qquad(1)$

$\overrightarrow{B}= B_{\circ} e^{i(\overrightarrow{k}. \overrightarrow{r} - \omega t)} \qquad(2)$

Here $E_{\circ}$ and $B_{\circ}$ are the complex amplitude of electric field vector $\overrightarrow{E}$ and magnetic field vector $\overrightarrow{B}$ respectively and $\overrightarrow{k}$ is the propagation constant.

Now

$\overrightarrow{\nabla}. \overrightarrow{E}= \left( \hat{i} \frac{\partial}{\partial x} + \hat{i} \frac{\partial}{\partial x} +\hat{i} \frac{\partial}{\partial x} \right). \left( \hat{i}E_{x} + \hat{j}E_{y} + \hat{k}E_{z} \right) $

$\overrightarrow{\nabla}. \overrightarrow{E}= \frac{\partial}{\partial x} \left(E_{x} \right)+ \frac{\partial}{\partial y} \left(E_{y} \right) + \frac{\partial}{\partial z} \left(E_{z} \right) \qquad(3)$

Here $E_{x}$, $E_{y}$ and $E_{z}$ are the component of electric field $\overrightarrow{E}$ in $x$, $y$, and $z$ direction. So the component form of the equation $(1)$

$\overrightarrow{E_{x}}= E_{\circ x} e^{i(\overrightarrow{k}. \overrightarrow{r} - \omega t)}$

$\overrightarrow{E_{y}}= E_{\circ y} e^{i(\overrightarrow{k}. \overrightarrow{r} - \omega t)}$

$\overrightarrow{E_{z}}= E_{\circ z} e^{i(\overrightarrow{k}. \overrightarrow{r} - \omega t)}$

Here

$\overrightarrow{k}.\overrightarrow{r}=\left( \hat{i}k_{x} + \hat{j}k_{y} + \hat{k}k_{z} \right). \left( \hat{i}x + \hat{j}y +\hat{k}z \right)$

$\overrightarrow{k}.\overrightarrow{r}=x k_{x} + yk_{y} + zk_{z} $

So above equation can be written as:

$\overrightarrow{E_{x}}= E_{\circ x} e^{[i(x k_{x} + yk_{y} + zk_{z}) - \omega t)]} \qquad(4)$

$\overrightarrow{E_{y}}= E_{\circ y} e^{[i(x k_{x} + yk_{y} + zk_{z}) - \omega t)]} \qquad(5)$

$\overrightarrow{E_{z}}= E_{\circ z} e^{[i(x k_{x} + yk_{y} + zk_{z}) - \omega t)]} \qquad(6)$

Now find that derivative of the equation $(4)$ along the direction of $x$ then

$\frac{\partial E_{x}}{\partial x} = i k_{x} E_{\circ x} e^{[i(x k_{x} + yk_{y} + zk_{z}) - \omega t)]} $

$\frac{\partial E_{x}}{\partial x} = i k_{x} E_{x} $

Similarly, the derivative of the equation $(5)$, and equation $(6)$ along the direction of $y$ and $z$ then

$\frac{\partial E_{y}}{\partial y} = i k_{y} E_{y} $

$\frac{\partial E_{z}}{\partial z} = i k_{z} E_{z} $

Now substitute the value of $\frac{\partial E_{x}}{\partial x}$, $\frac{\partial E_{y}}{\partial y}$, and $\frac{\partial E_{z}}{\partial z}$ in equation $(3)$

$\overrightarrow{\nabla}. \overrightarrow{E}= i k_{x} E_{x} + i k_{y} E_{y} + i k_{z} E_{z}$

$\overrightarrow{\nabla}. \overrightarrow{E}= i \left( k_{x} E_{x} + k_{y} E_{y} + k_{z} E_{z} \right)$

$\overrightarrow{\nabla}. \overrightarrow{E}= i \left( \hat{i}k_{x} + \hat{j}k_{y} + \hat{k}k_{z} \right). \left( \hat{i}E_{x} + \hat{j}E_{y} + \hat{k} E_{z} \right)$

$\overrightarrow{\nabla}. \overrightarrow{E}= i \left( \overrightarrow {k} . \overrightarrow {E} \right) \qquad(7)$

From Maxwell's first equation in free space:

$\overrightarrow{\nabla}. \overrightarrow{E}= 0 \qquad(8)$

From equation $(7)$ and equation $(8)$

$i \left( \overrightarrow {k} . \overrightarrow {E} \right)=0$

$ \overrightarrow {k} . \overrightarrow {E} = 0$

From the above equation, we can conclude that the electric field is perpendicular to the direction of propagation of the wave i.e. $\overrightarrow {E}\perp \overrightarrow {k}$

Similarly, The same result is obtained from $\overrightarrow{\nabla}. \overrightarrow {B}$ i.e. $ \overrightarrow {k} . \overrightarrow {B} = 0$, So we can conclude that the magnetic field is also perpendicular to the direction of propagation i.e. $\overrightarrow {B}\perp \overrightarrow {k}$

Thus, "The electromagnetic waves are transverse in nature"

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