It is the most familiar form of electromagnetic waves. It is the part of the spectrum that is detected by the human eye. It runs a wavelength range of about 700 – 400 nm. Visible light emitted or reflected from objects around us provides us information about the world. Our eyes are sensitive to this range of
wavelengths. Different animals are sensitive to different range of wavelengths. For example, snakes can detect infrared waves, and the ‘visible’ range of many insects extends well into the utraviolet.
It covers wavelengths ranging from about 400 nm down to 0.6 nm. Ultraviolet (UV) radiation is produced by special lamps and very hot bodies. The sun is an important source of ultraviolet light. But fortunately, most of it is absorbed in the ozone layer in the atmosphere at an altitude of about 40 – 50 km. UV light in large quantitieshas harmful effects on humans. Exposure to UV radiation induces the
production of more melanin, causing tanning of the skin. UV radiation is absorbed by ordinary glass. Hence, one cannot get tanned or sunburn through glass windows.
Welders wear special glass goggles or face masks with glass windows to protect their eyes from large amount of UV produced by welding arcs. Due to its shorter wavelengths, UV radiations can be focussed into very narrow beams for high precision applications such as LASIK (Laserassisted in situ keratomileusis) eye surgery. UV lamps are used to kill germs in water purifiers.
Ozone layer in the atmosphere plays a protective role, and hence its depletion by chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs) gas (such as freon) is a matter of international concern.
Beyond the UV region of the electromagnetic spectrum lies the X-ray region. We are familiar with X-rays because of its medical applications. It One common way to generate X-rays is to bombard a metal
target by high energy electrons. X-rays are used as a diagnostic tool in medicine and as a treatment for certain forms of cancer. Because X-rays damage or destroy living tissues and organisms, care must be taken to avoid unnecessary or over exposure.
They lie in the upper frequency range of the electromagnetic spectrum. This high frequency radiation is produced in nuclear reactions and also emitted by radioactive nuclei. They are used in medicine to destroy cancer cells.