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The Photonics Spotlight

Light = Electromagnetic Waves?

Dr. Rüdiger Paschotta

Ref.: encyclopedia articles on polarization waves, nonlinear polarization

It is very commonly assumed that light is physically nothing else than electromagnetic waves. One then easily overlooks a wide range of essential phenomena which are also involved in many cases of light propagation. This occurs as soon as light enters some medium:

So we see that only light in vacuum can be fully described as an electromagnetic wave, while there is much more to be explored for light propagating in media.

This article is a posting of the Photonics Spotlight, authored by Dr. Rüdiger Paschotta. You may link to this page, because its location is permanent. See also the Encyclopedia of Laser Physics and Technology.

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