Difference Between Wavelength and Period

Main Difference

The main difference between wavelength and period is that the wavelength is defined as the shortest distance between two consecutive troughs or crests of a wave that are in phase, whereas the period is the total time required to cover one complete oscillation at a given point.

Wavelength vs. Period

The wavelength can refer to the shortest distance between two successive crests or troughs of a wave, whereas the period can refer as the time need to complete one vibration at a given time. Wavelength is used for the measurement and calculation of the distance, whereas the period is used for the measurement and calculation of time interval. Wavelength use meter as an SI unit, whereas the period uses second as an SI unit. The depiction on a graph for the wavelength can be made by using the displacement vs. position graph, whereas the depiction on a graph for the period can be made by using the displacement vs. time graph. Wavelength often denoted by λ, whereas the period often denoted by T. Wavelength is used when we talk about the spatial relations, whereas period is used when we talk about temporal relations. Wavelength is the shortest distance from one point of a wave to a similar point of the same wave, whereas the period is the total time is taken to complete one wavelength itself as one cycle.

Comparison Chart

WavelengthPeriod
Wavelength is the shortest distance between two consecutive crests or troughs of a wave that are in phase.The period is the total time required to cover one complete oscillation at a given point.
Denotation
It is denoted by λT denotes it
Unit
Its SI unit is the meterIts SI unit is second
Depiction on graph
Using the displacement vs. position graphUsing the displacement vs. time graph
Relations
It relates to the spatial relationsIt relates to the temporal relations

What is Wavelength?

Wavelength refers to the shortest distance from the point on the wave to a similar point on the same wave. It deals with the calculations and measurements of distance. Wavelength often denoted by Greek letter λ. When we talk about spatial relations, we use wavelength. For the depiction on the graph, we use displacement vs. position graph for wavelength. Wavelength also represents the several repeating patterns of traveling energy such as sound and light. This process also involves in the distinguishing one type of wave from another. Wavelength is also measured in kilometers, meters, microseconds, milliseconds, and even the smaller units such as picometers, nanometers, and femtometers. The shorter units are used for the measurements of smaller wavelength on the electromagnetic spectrum such as the X-rays, ultraviolet radiations and gamma rays. Sometimes, the wavelength is also used to represent modulated waves and is also applied to the sinusoidal waves of modulated which is formed by the interference of several sinusoidal waves. Wavelength also depends upon the medium along which a wave travels such as a vacuum, air or water, etc. the waves which have higher frequencies will have shorter wavelength and waves which have lower frequencies will have higher wavelengths. The range of the wavelength for the wave process is called a spectrum. In terms of transverse waves, the wavelength is the shortest distance between consecutive crests and troughs that are in the same phase on the same wave. In the case of longitudinal waves, the wavelength is the shortest distance between two consecutive compressions and rarefactions on the same wave.

What is Period?

The period is the total time required by the wave to complete its one vibration or oscillation at a given time by the same wave. The period is used for the measurement and calculation of time interval. The SI unit period is second. The depiction of the graph can be done by using the displacement vs. time graph for the period. When we talk about temporal relations, we use period calculations. The period is represented by T. Its other units are milliseconds, microseconds, and kilo seconds. For a smaller period, we use picoseconds, nanoseconds, and femtoseconds. The period is the reciprocal of the frequency. The higher the frequency lower will be period and lower the frequency higher will be period. In other words, if the frequency is a large period will be small and if the frequency is small period will be large. The time taken by the wave to complete one wavelength is called a period. The period can also be found out by dividing the total time to the number of vibrations.

Terms of Period

  • Orbital Period: The total time taken by the object to move around the other object.
  • Pendulum Period: The total time taken by the wave to move from one side to the other side and back.

Key Differences

  1. Wavelength is the shortest between two successive crests or troughs that are in phase on the same wave, whereas the period is total time taken by the wave to complete one cycle at a given point.
  2. Wavelength is denoted by Greek letter λ, whereas the period is denoted by T.
  3. Wavelength is the measurement and calculations of distance, whereas the period is the measurement and calculations of a time interval.
  4. Wavelength is used for spatial relations, whereas the period is used for temporal relations.
  5. Wavelength has meters as an SI unit, whereas the period has seconds as an SI unit.
  6. For wavelength, the depiction on the graph is made by using displacement vs. position graph conversely for the period, the depiction on the graph is made by using displacement vs. time graph.

Conclusion

The above discussion concludes that wavelength and period are the two basic terms of the wave pattern. Wavelength is the straight distance between two consecutive points on the wave that is in the same phase, whereas the period is the total time taken by the wave to complete its one vibration or cycle on the same point by the similar wave.

Author:

Harlon Moss

Harlon currently works as a quality moderator and content writer for Turpy Media. He graduated from the University of California in 2010 with a degree in Computer Science. Follow him on Twitter @HarlonMoss or on Pinterest @HarlonMoss

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