The radio waves and microwaves are the kinds of electromagnetic waves. Now before understanding the two in detail, we must know its background details such as what are electromagnetic waves and how these can be produced. The electromagnetic waves radiated by accelerating charges. The electric and magnetic fields oscillate simultaneously which result in regeneration of both of the fields. In simple words, the oscillating electric and magnetic fields reproduce each other and the wave is propagated in the space.
The prior difference between a radio wave and microwave is that the microwave has a shorter wavelength as compared to radio wave. But, Microwave contains higher energy.
Content: Radio wave Vs Microwave
|Basis for comparison||Radio Wave||Microwave|
|Wavelength range||Greater than 0.1 m||Lies between 0.1 to 1mm|
|Generation||Rapid acceleration and deceleration of electrons in aerials.||Klystron valve or magnetron valve.|
|Detection||Receivers aerials||Point contact diodes|
|Properties||Has a low frequency and low energy.||Contain high frequency and high energy.|
|Wave can travel in||All directions (Omnidirectional)||Single (Unidirectional)|
|Applications||AM, FM and cellular systems.||Radar system, aircraft navigation and microwave oven.|
Definition of Radio wave
Radio waves are the electromagnetic waves with the minimum energy, highest wavelength and lowest frequency. These waves are generated in the conducting wires with the help of accelerated movement of charges. The main application of radio wave is radio and television communication system.
Radio waves frequency lies in the range of 500 kHz to 1000 Mhz. Higher frequencies up to 54 MHz are utilized for shortwave bands. The frequency range used for the television communication system is 54 Mhz to 890 Mhz, while the FM radio band covers the frequency range from 88 Mhz to 108 Mhz. Another application of radio waves is to transmit voice communication through cellular phones in the ultrahigh frequency (UHF) band.
Radio waves are omnidirectional in nature and can multicast the signals, which means there is no line of sight transmission and antennas are not need to be aligned. But, the omnidirectional property of the radio wave is also a negative point because the radio waves transmitted from an antenna is receptive to interference by another antenna when the signals are transmitted over the same range of frequencies.
The radio waves propagating in the sky mode can cover long distances. Low or medium-range radio waves can easily penetrate walls, which make it insecure as the waves cannot be isolated for the particular regions. But, it is also convenient if the desired group of users is large and residing in different buildings or areas.
Definition of Microwave
Similar to Radio wave a microwave is also an electromagnetic wave of lower wavelength and high frequency. These are also known as short-wavelength radio waves. It generates frequency range up to Gigahertz (GHz) with the help of specific vacuum tubes known as klystrons and magnetrons. The shorter wavelength of microwave makes it more appropriate for radar and aircraft systems.
Dissimilar to radio waves, microwaves are unidirectional in nature. It is propagated in the line of sight, where the aligned antennas must be placed for the proper communication. It is beneficial, as it reduces the interference problem and the wave can be concentrated in a particular area.
The disadvantage of the line of sight propagation is that it requires the antenna of longer height because antenna with short height could result in interference. Additionally, the curvature of the earth can also become an obstacle to the microwave transmission. The distance covered by microwaves is less than radio waves, that is the reason it requires regenerators (or repeaters) to be placed in between the antennas.
A major application of these waves is the microwave ovens. These ovens work by matching the corresponding frequency of the microwave with the resonant frequency of the water molecules which effectively converts the wave energy into kinetic energy of the molecules. As a result, the temperature of food containing water increases.
Key Differences Between Radio wave and Microwave
- Radio wave wavelength is greater than 1 cm while the wavelength of a microwave is in the range of 1 cm to 1mm.
- A radio wave is generated when a charged particle (ion) is swiftly accelerated and decelerated in the air. On the other hand, the microwaves are produced with the help of klystron or magnetron in which the radio wave is propagated in a magnetic field in order to generate microwave.
- The detection of a radio wave is done using receivers aerials whereas microwave is detected using point contact diodes.
- Microwave is a high frequency and high energy wave. As against, the radio wave is a low frequency and low energy wave.
- Radio wave is omnidirectional in nature. Conversely, a microwave is unidirectional.
- Microwaves can cover shorter distances. On the contrary, radio waves can travel a long distance.
- Radio wave is ususally propagated through sky mode while microwave uses the line of sight propagation.
- Radio waves are commonly used in AM, FM, cellular systems, etc. In contrast, radar systems, aircraft navigation, microwave oven are the common applications of microwaves.
Radio wave and microwave are the electromagnetic radiations having the different frequency, wavelength and properties. Both the waves are implemented in different application fields.