Physics Stack Exchange is a question and answer site for active researchers, academics and students of physics. Join them; it only takes a minute:

Sign up
Here's how it works:
  1. Anybody can ask a question
  2. Anybody can answer
  3. The best answers are voted up and rise to the top

I understand that the electromagnetic spectrum is made up of different frequencies of light waves, but is this true in all cases such as with longer wave frequencies? "such as with microwaves". sometimes I get the impression that with microwave ovens for example use waves of electrons, so my question is, is there some kind of threshold where somewhere between infrared to microwaves does the frequency makes the conversion from light to electrons? (and if so, how?) or is it always light and has some other correlation such as light influencing the electrons thru the air?

share|cite|improve this question
No, it's always light. Microwaves use light. They do, however, use electron motion to generate that light. – DumpsterDoofus Feb 25 '14 at 4:43
ok, I need an explanation for this down vote, its A genuine question, did I ask it wright? – GammaRay Feb 25 '14 at 4:45
I didn't downvote, it was probably someone else. Maybe they downvoted because of the misconception that long-wave radiation is electrons? – DumpsterDoofus Feb 25 '14 at 4:46
no not you, I didn't see your comment till I submitted mine. – GammaRay Feb 25 '14 at 4:48
DumpsterDoofus-thanks for the answer, that's what I figured, if only you could have answered me in the answer box I could have up voted it. – GammaRay Feb 25 '14 at 4:52

All electromagnetic waves (long wave, radio waves, microwaves, infrared, visible, ultraviolet, x-rays, gamma rays) are produced when electrons are accelerated (not necessarily transmitted).

Electrons themselves are not transmitted and thought of as electromagnetic waves in most of the spectrum except in the case of x-rays, or synchrotron radiation. In the case of x-rays, of course, the electrons themselves have been accelerated towards a target, as in an x-ray or an electron microscope (and this just happens to correspond to a particular energy on the electromagnetic spectrum that is between UV and gamma radiation).

UV and energies above are also known as ionizing radiation, because this area of the high EM spectrum is sufficiently energetic to strip valence electrons from atoms and thereby effect chemical (and not just thermal) changes.

This is actually a good (and a little tricky) question about the EM spectrum.

share|cite|improve this answer

Your Answer


By posting your answer, you agree to the privacy policy and terms of service.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.