How do electromagnetic waves transfer energy?

1 Answer
May 30, 2015

Electromagnetic waves are simply coupled oscillations of electric and magnetic fields which are self sustaining and can travel through vacuum.

You must be familiar with the fact that, the energy density of an electric field is given as #(epsilon""_0E^2)/2# and that of a magnetic field is given as #B^2/(2mu""_0)#. Thus, the electric and magnetic fields transfer energy and momentum in form of changing electric and magnetic fields.

A very simple way of checking this fact is to allow EM waves to pass through a surface containing static charges. The charges will be set to motion by the electromagnetic field.
In fact, H. Hertz' original EM wave detector working exactly on the same principle.