Phase Velocity

The phase velocity of a wave is the rate at which the phase of the wave propagates in space. This is the velocity at which the phase of any one frequency component of the wave travels. For such a component, any given phase of the wave (for example, the crest) will appear to travel at the phase velocity. The phase velocity is given in terms of the wavelength λ (lambda) and period T as

Or, equivalently, in terms of the wave's angular frequency ω, which specifies the number of oscillations per unit of time, and wavenumber k, which specifies the number of oscillations per unit of space, by

To understand where it comes from, imagine a basic sine wave, A cos (kxωt). Given time t, the source produces ωt oscillations. At the same time, the initial wave front propagates away from the source through the space to the distance x to fit the same amount of oscillations, kx = ωt. So that the propagation velocity v is v = x/t = ω/k. The wave propagates faster when higher frequency oscillations are distributed less densely in space. Formally, Φ = kxωt is the phase. Since ω = −dΦ/dt and k = +dΦ/dx, the wave velocity is v = dx/dt = ω/k.

Read more about Phase Velocity:  Relation To Group Velocity, Refractive Index and Transmission Speed, Matter Wave Phase

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