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

What is the exact difference between wavenumber and propagation constant in an electromagnetic wave propagating in a medium such as a transmission line, cause i am a bit confused. Does it have to do with loss in the medium?

share|cite|improve this question
Did you check Wikipedia? and – Qmechanic Jan 25 '12 at 14:58
up vote 0 down vote accepted

The propegation constant has a real and an imaginary part. One of those is equal to the angular wavenumber, the other is proportional to the absorption coefficient. Which is which (which is the real part and which is the imaginary part) depends on what definition you're using for the term "propegation constant". There is more than one definition in common use.

share|cite|improve this answer

The attenuation constant is specifically the imaginary part of the wave number (ki), while the wave number in dissipative media is the real part of the wave number (kr). Let me know what you think, because I just started studying this.

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.