Dictionary:wavenumber (k)

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1. The number of waves per unit distance perpendicular to a wavefront, that is, the reciprocal of the wavelength. It equals , that is, wavenumber k is to as frequency f is to angular frequency . (Some authors define as the wavenumber.)

2. Spatial frequency, the number of wave cycles per unit of distance in a given direction (direction of the spread); apparent wavenumber. Specifically, the reciprocal of the apparent wavelength along the spread direction:


where f=frequency and Va is apparent velocity. If a wavefront makes the angle with the given direction,


where V is the actual velocity of the wavefront. A wavenumber of zero indicates a wavefront striking a line of detectors simultaneously. See f-k plot.

3. See propagation constant.