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 Microwave frequency bands


             Microwaves are radio waves with wavelengths ranging from as long as one meter to as short as one millimetre, or equivalently, with frequencies between 300 MHz (0.3 GHz) and 300 GHz. This broad definition includes both UHF and EHF (millimeter waves), and various sources use different boundaries. In all cases, microwave includes the entire SHF band (3 to 30 GHz, or 10 to 1 cm) at minimum, with RF engineering often putting the lower boundary at 1 GHz (30 cm), and the upper around 100 GHz (3 mm).

The prefix "micro-" in "microwave" is not meant to suggest a wavelength in the micrometer range. It indicates that microwaves are "small" compared to waves used in typical radio broadcasting, in that they have shorter wavelengths. The boundaries between far infrared light, terahertz radiation, microwaves, and ultra-high-frequency radio waves are fairly arbitrary and are used variously between different fields of study.

Electromagnetic waves longer (lower frequency) than microwaves are called "radio waves". Electromagnetic radiation with shorter wavelengths may be called "millimeter waves".

Above 300 GHz, the absorption of electromagnetic radiation by Earth's atmosphere is so great that it is in effect opaque, until the atmosphere becomes transparent again in the so-called infrared and optical window frequency ranges.


The microwave spectrum is usually defined as electromagnetic energy ranging from approximately 1 GHz to 100 GHz in frequency, but older usage includes lower frequencies. Most common applications are within the 1 to 40 GHz range. One set of microwave frequency bands designations by the Radio Society of Great Britain (RSGB), is tabulated below:



Letter Designation

Frequency range

L band

1 to 2 GHz

S band

2 to 4 GHz

C band

4 to 8 GHz

X band

8 to 12 GHz

Ku band

12 to 18 GHz

K band

18 to 26.5 GHz

Ka band

26.5 to 40 GHz

Q band

33 to 50 GHz

U band

40 to 60 GHz

V band

50 to 75 GHz

E band

60 to 90 GHz

W band

75 to 110 GHz

F band

90 to 140 GHz

D band

110 to 170 GHz

X band:

The X band is a segment of the microwave radio region of the electromagnetic spectrum. In some cases, such as in communication engineering, the frequency range of X band is rather indefinitely set at approximately 7.0 to 11.2 gigahertz (GHz). In radar engineering, the frequency range is specified by the IEEE at 8.0 to 12.0 GHz.

The term "X-band" is also used informally and inaccurately to refer to the extended AM broadcast band, where the "X" stands for "extended".