Bitesize has changed! We're updating subjects as fast as we can. Visit our new site to find Bitesize guides and clips - and tell us what you think!
Print

Science

The electromagnetic spectrum

Microwaves

You should know some of the properties and uses of microwave radiation.

Cooking

Microwave radiation has lower frequencies and longer wavelengths than visible light. Microwaves with certain wavelengths are absorbed by water molecules and can be used for cooking. Water in the food absorbs the microwave radiation, which causes the water to heat up and cook the food. The water in living cells can also absorb microwave radiation. As a result, they can be killed or damaged by the heat released.

Communications

Microwave radiation can also be used to transmit signals such as mobile phone calls. Microwave transmitters and receivers on buildings and masts communicate with the mobile telephones in their range.

Certain microwave radiation wavelengths pass through the Earth's atmosphere and can be used to transmit information to and from satellites in orbit.

Back to Radiation and the Universe index

BBC © 2014 The BBC is not responsible for the content of external sites. Read more.

This page is best viewed in an up-to-date web browser with style sheets (CSS) enabled. While you will be able to view the content of this page in your current browser, you will not be able to get the full visual experience. Please consider upgrading your browser software or enabling style sheets (CSS) if you are able to do so.