Does the principle of superposition apply for electromagnetic waves on a crystal? So I know that the principle applies for any wave but I don't understand why some books say that doesn't apply for waves on a crystal.

  • $\begingroup$ Can you provide more context? Like where you saw it, quoting the sentence, and so on...? $\endgroup$
    – FGSUZ
    Commented Jan 9, 2019 at 0:47

1 Answer 1


The superposition of waves results from the linearity of the wave equation governing them. Many materials have nonlinear electric susceptibilities. Maxwells equations in matter depend on the displacement field which in turn depends on the susceptibility. See https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nonlinear_optics


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