Power transferred per unit area / From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
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In physics, the intensity or flux of radiant energy is the power transferred per unit area, where the area is measured on the plane perpendicular to the direction of propagation of the energy. In the SI system, it has units watts per square metre (W/m2), or kg⋅s−3 in base units. Intensity is used most frequently with waves such as acoustic waves (sound) or electromagnetic waves such as light or radio waves, in which case the average power transfer over one period of the wave is used. Intensity can be applied to other circumstances where energy is transferred. For example, one could calculate the intensity of the kinetic energy carried by drops of water from a garden sprinkler.
The word "intensity" as used here is not synonymous with "strength", "amplitude", "magnitude", or "level", as it sometimes is in colloquial speech.
Intensity can be found by taking the energy density (energy per unit volume) at a point in space and multiplying it by the velocity at which the energy is moving. The resulting vector has the units of power divided by area (i.e., surface power density).
The intensity of a wave is proportional to the square of it's amplitude; doubling the amplitude of a mechanical wave, for example, is doubling the amount of work/energy done by the wave (per time), which is proportional to the square of the wave's velocity. Intensity is energy/time*area, and so is proportional to the square of the amplitude.