Transverse Waves (Edexcel International A Level Physics)

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Lindsay Gilmour



Transverse Waves

Transverse Waves

  • A transverse wave is one where the particles oscillate perpendicular to the direction of the
    • Propagation of the wave
    • Direction of energy transfer
  • Transverse waves show areas of crests (peaks) and troughs

Transverse wave diagram, downloadable AS & A Level Physics revision notes

Diagram of a transverse wave


  • Examples of transverse waves are:
    • Electromagnetic waves e.g. radio, visible light, UV
    • Vibrations on a guitar string
    • Waves on a rope or slinky

  • Transverse waves can be polarised


Exam Tip

Questions about transverse waves typically start by asking for a definition, so be ready with a statement about vibrations or oscillations being perpendicular to the travel of the wave.

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Lindsay Gilmour

Author: Lindsay Gilmour

Lindsay graduated with First Class Honours from the University of Greenwich and earned her Science Communication MSc at Imperial College London. Now with many years’ experience as a Head of Physics and Examiner for A Level and IGCSE Physics (and Biology!), her love of communicating, educating and Physics has brought her to Save My Exams where she hopes to help as many students as possible on their next steps.