Convert Wavelength to Frequency Worked Example Problem

Spectroscopy Example Problem

Aurora Borealis or Northern Lights, Iceland
Aurora Borealis or Northern Lights, Iceland. Getty Images/Arctic-Images

This example problem demonstrates how to find the frequency of light from the wavelength. Wavelength is the distance or length between the peaks, troughs, or other fixed points on a wave. Frequency is the rate at which successive peaks, valleys, or points pass per second.

Wavelength to Frequency Problem

The Aurora Borealis is a night display in the Northern latitudes caused by ionizing radiation interacting with the Earth's magnetic field and the upper atmosphere. The distinctive green color is caused by the interaction of the radiation with oxygen and has a wavelength of 5577 Å. What is the frequency of this light?


The speed of light, c, is equal to the product of the wavelength, λ, and the frequency, ν.
ν = c/λ
ν = 3 x 108 m/sec/(5577 Å x 10-10 m/1 Å)
ν = 3 x 108 m/sec/(5.577 x 10-7
ν = 5.38 x 1014 Hz


The frequency of the 5577 Å light is ν = 5.38 x 1014 Hz.