What comes to your mind when you hear the word ‘microwave’? Is it a microwave oven? Microwave ovens use microwaves to cook or heat food.
Microwaves are electromagnetic waves with frequencies ranging between 300 megahertz (300,000,000 oscillations per second) and 300 gigahertz (300,000,000,000 oscillations per second). They are a part of the electromagnetic spectrum.
Apart from cooking, applications of microwaves include mobile communications, local networking (e.g. Bluetooth), RADAR (radio detection and ranging), and radio astronomy.
Marconi was among the first to recognise the potential of microwave communications. He built the very first mobile telephone system. The first mobile telephone call was made in 1933 between Marconi and Pope Pius XI.
Microwave physics remains an extremely active area of contemporary research, including in the Department of Physics here at the University of Oxford.
One area of interest in the context of microwave research is the study of microwave-frequency magnetic waves called spin waves.