Wave Speed Calculator

Created by Purnima Singh, PhD
Reviewed by Kenneth Alambra
Last updated: Sep 22, 2022

Omni's wave speed calculator allows you to determine the speed of waves from their frequency and wavelength.

Continue reading this article to learn what wave speed is and how to calculate it. You will also find an example of wave speed calculation using this tool.

What is wave speed?

As we know, a wave is a disturbance that propagates from its point of origin. For example, when you throw a rock into a pond, the ripples or water waves move on the surface of the water in the outward direction from where you dropped the rock.

Wave speed is the speed at which the wave propagates. We can also define it as the distance traveled by the wave in a given time interval.

How to calculate wave speed - Wave speed formula

To calculate the speed of waves, we will use the formula:

v=fλorv=λT \small \begin{align*} \quad \quad v &= f \lambda \\ \text{or}\quad v& = \frac{\lambda}{T} \end{align*}

Where:

  • vv - Speed of the wave (in units of m/s);
  • ff - Frequency of the wave (in units of hertz);
  • TT - Period of the wave (in units of seconds); and
  • λ\lambda - Wavelength (in units of meters).

As an example, let us calculate the speed of sound waves in a medium where a 1500-Hz frequency produces a wavelength of 0.221 m.

  1. We are given, f=1500 Hzf=1500\ \text{Hz} and λ=0.221 m\lambda = 0.221\ \text m.

  2. Using the equation for wave speed, we can calculate

v=fλ=1500 Hz×0.221 m=331.5 m/s\small \begin{align*} \quad \quad v &= f \lambda \\ & = 1500\ \text{Hz} \times 0.221\ \text m\\ & = 331.5 \ \text{m/s} \end{align*}
  1. Hence, the speed of the sound waves in the given medium is 331.5 m/s.

How to use the wave speed calculator

Now we will see how to calculate wave speed using our calculator. We will consider the same example as in the previous section:

  1. Enter the wave frequency (f=1500 Hzf=1500\ \text{Hz}) and wavelength (λ=0.221 m\lambda = 0.221\ \text m) in the respective fields.

  2. The tool will display the wave speed (v=331.5 m/sv = 331.5\ \text{m/s}).

  3. You can calculate the speed of waves by typing the wave period (or wave frequency) and wave number (or wavelength).

Other wave calculators

If you liked this tool, do check out our other calculators to determine the properties of waves:

FAQ

How do I calculate wave speed from frequency and wavelength?

To calculate wave speed from frequency and wavelength, follow the given instructions:

  1. Multiply the wavelength in meters with frequency in hertz.
  2. You will get the wave speed in m/s.
  3. Congrats! You have calculated wave speed from frequency and wavelength.

What is the speed of electromagnetic waves in a vacuum?

3.0 × 10⁸ m/s. All electromagnetic waves, including radio waves, travel at the same speed in a vacuum.

What is the SI unit of wave speed?

The S.I. unit of wave speed is m/s. According to the formula for wave speed, wave speed = wavelength/time period. Since the S.I. unit of wavelength is meter (m) and that of time period is second (s). The S.I. unit of wave speed is m/s.

Purnima Singh, PhD
Wave frequency (f)
Hz
Wave period (T)
sec
Wavelength (λ)
m
Wavenumber
1/
m
Wave speed (v)
m/s
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