Concept

# Transverse mode

Résumé
A transverse mode of electromagnetic radiation is a particular electromagnetic field pattern of the radiation in the plane perpendicular (i.e., transverse) to the radiation's propagation direction. Transverse modes occur in radio waves and microwaves confined to a waveguide, and also in light waves in an optical fiber and in a laser's optical resonator. Transverse modes occur because of boundary conditions imposed on the wave by the waveguide. For example, a radio wave in a hollow metal waveguide must have zero tangential electric field amplitude at the walls of the waveguide, so the transverse pattern of the electric field of waves is restricted to those that fit between the walls. For this reason, the modes supported by a waveguide are quantized. The allowed modes can be found by solving Maxwell's equations for the boundary conditions of a given waveguide. Unguided electromagnetic waves in free space, or in a bulk isotropic dielectric, can be described as a superposition of plane waves; these can be described as TEM modes as defined below. However in any sort of waveguide where boundary conditions are imposed by a physical structure, a wave of a particular frequency can be described in terms of a transverse mode (or superposition of such modes). These modes generally follow different propagation constants. When two or more modes have an identical propagation constant along the waveguide, then there is more than one modal decomposition possible in order to describe a wave with that propagation constant (for instance, a non-central Gaussian laser mode can be equivalently described as a superposition of Hermite-Gaussian modes or Laguerre-Gaussian modes which are described below). Modes in waveguides can be classified as follows: Transverse electromagnetic (TEM) modes Neither electric nor magnetic field in the direction of propagation. Transverse electric (TE) modes No electric field in the direction of propagation. These are sometimes called H modes because there is only a magnetic field along the direction of propagation (H is the conventional symbol for magnetic field).
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