microwave radio waves

What are Microwave Radio Waves?

Radio waves’ are electromagnetic waves used in different forms of wireless communication such as television, radios, and mobile phones. These devices convert the microwave radio waves mechanical vibrations in the speaker to make sound waves.

According to NASA, radio waves have the longest wavelengths in the electromagnetic spectrum ranging from 0.04 inches (1 millimeter) to more than 62 miles (100 kilometers) and frequencies starting from 3 KHz to 3000 GHz. They can travel long distances and travel at the speed of light which makes radio waves critical in communications technology.


How Radio Waves were Discovered?

Radio waves were discovered back in the 1870s by Scottish physicist James Clerk Maxwell but it was Heinrich Hertz, a German physicist who applied Maxwell’s theories for the first transmission and reception of radio waves. Hence, the name of the unit of frequency of an electromagnetic wave — one cycle per second is called Hertz.


Radio Spectrum

Radio waves are at the low-frequency portion of the electromagnetic spectrum used primarily for communications signals. Applications such as citizen band, AM and FM radio, radar, and television work depending on their position in the spectrum.

Radio waves are separated into parts or bands by frequency.

Band: Extremely Low Frequency (ELF)

Frequency Range: <3 KHz

Wavelength Range: >100 Km

Band: Very Low Frequency (VLF)

Frequency Range: 3 to 30 kHz

Wavelength Range: 10 to 100 km

Band: Low Frequency (LF)

Frequency Range: 30 to 300 kHz

Wavelength Range: 1 m to 10 km

Band: Medium Frequency (MF)

Frequency Range: 300 kHz to 3 MHz

Wavelength Range: 100 m to 1 km

Band: High Frequency (HF)

Frequency Range: 3 to 30 MHz

Wavelength Range: 10 to 100 m

Band: Very High Frequency (VHF)

Frequency Range: 30 to 300 MHz

Wavelength Range: 1 to 10 m

Band: Ultra High Frequency (UHF)

Frequency Range: 300 MHz to 3 GHz

Wavelength Range: 10 cm to 1 m

Band: Super High Frequency (SHF)

Frequency Range: 3 to 30 GHz

Wavelength Range: 1 to 1 cm

Band: Extremely High Frequency (EHF)

Frequency Range: 30 to 300 GHz

Wavelength Range: 1 mm to 1 cm


The microwaves are part of the radio spectrum, working on frequency between about 1 and 100 GHz and wavelength from about 1 to 1000 mm. This region in the spectrum is ideal for microwave ovens and GPS (Global Positioning System) for spacecraft and satellite communication.

Today, microwave radio waves are widely used in the telecommunications industry like direct TV and radio broadcasts due to multiple reasons. First, microwaves require less maintenance. Second, it is highly reliable and requires small antennas. Third, microwave radio waves can carry a large amount of information due to high operating frequencies.

Microwave radio waves are primarily utilized for direct communications systems to provide video and voice information in analog and digital formats from one area to another. Microwave radios are also used for remote-controlled machinery, switches, and signals.

ELF or Extremely Low Frequency is ideal for submarine and mining communications. On the other hand, LF (Low Frequency) and MF (Medium Frequency) are suitable for marine and aviation radios. HF (High Frequency), VHF (Very High Frequency) and UHF (Ultra High Frequency) work for television broadcast, cellphones, GPS (global positioning system) and FM radio.


What are the Uses of Radio Waves?

Radio waves are primarily used for transmitting information from one place to another through space or air like radar.

Below are the applications of radio waves in different industries:

  • Navigation for ships and aircraft, radio waves are used for radio tie signals and direction finder (i.e., compass)
  • Radar system – radio waves are used to send out signals and pick up the image from objects along their path
  • GPS or Global Positioning System
  • Mobile phones
  • Radio telescopes
  • Long ranged radio waves allow astronauts to communicate back to the Earth from the space through the use of artificial satellites.
  • Radio waves are used in rocket and artificial satellite operations systems, and other radio waves activated devices


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