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### Envelope (waves)

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Envelope (waves)
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(File:Signal envelopes.png|right|thumb|Top and bottom envelope functions for a modulated sine wave.)In physics and engineering, the envelope of an oscillating signal is a smooth curve outlining its extremes. The envelope thus generalizes the concept of a constant amplitude. The figure illustrates a modulated sine wave varying between an upper and a lower envelope. The envelope function may be a function of time, space, angle, or indeed of any variable.

## Example: beating waves

{{see also|Beat (acoustics)}}(File:Modulated wave.png|right|thumb|A modulated wave resulting from adding two sine waves of nearly identical wavelength and frequency.)A common situation resulting in an envelope function in both space x and time t is the superposition of two waves of almost the same wavelength and frequency:BOOK, Wind Waves: Their Generation and Propagation on the Ocean Surface, Blair Kinsman, 2002,weblink 186, Courier Dover Publications, 0486495116, Reprint of Prentice-Hall 1965,
begin{align}F(x, t) & = sin left[ 2 pi left( frac {x}{lambda - Delta lambda } - ( f + Delta f )t right) right] + sin left[ 2 pi left( frac {x}{lambda + Delta lambda } - ( f - Delta f )t right) right] [6pt]& approx 2cos left[ 2 pi left( frac {x} {lambda_{rm mod}} - Delta f t right) right] sin left[ 2 pi left( frac {x}{lambda} - f t right) right]end{align}which uses the trigonometric formula for the addition of two sine waves, and the approximation Î”Î» â‰ª Î»:
frac{1}{lambda pm Delta lambda}=frac {1}{lambda} frac{1}{1pmDelta lambda / lambda }approx frac{1}{lambda}mp frac {Delta lambda}{lambda^2} .
Here the modulation wavelength Î»mod is given by:BOOK, Air and Water: The Biology and Physics of Life's Media, Mark W. Denny,weblink 289, Princeton University Press
year=1993,
lambda_{rm mod} = frac {lambda^2}{Delta lambda} .
The modulation wavelength is double that of the envelope itself because each half-wavelength of the modulating cosine wave governs both positive and negative values of the modulated sine wave. Likewise the beat frequency is that of the envelope, twice that of the modulating wave, or 2Î”f.If this wave is a sound wave, the ear hears the frequency associated with f and the amplitude of this sound varies with the beat frequency.

### Phase and group velocity

missing image!
- Wave group.gif -
frame| The red square moves with the phase velocity, and the green circles propagate with the group velocity.
The argument of the sinusoids above apart from a factor 2{{pi}} are:
xi_C =left( frac {x}{lambda} - f t right) , xi_E=left( frac {x} {lambda_{rm mod}} - Delta f t right) ,
with subscripts C and E referring to the carrier and the envelope. The same amplitude F of the wave results from the same values of Î¾C and Î¾E, each of which may itself return to the same value over different but properly related choices of x and t. This invariance means that one can trace these waveforms in space to find the speed of a position of fixed amplitude as it propagates in time; for the argument of the carrier wave to stay the same, the condition is:
left( frac {x}{lambda} - f t right) = left( frac {x+Delta x}{lambda} - f (t + Delta t) right) ,
which shows to keep a constant amplitude the distance Î”x is related to the time interval Î”t by the so-called phase velocity vp
v_{rm p} = frac{Delta x}{Delta t} = lambda f .
On the other hand, the same considerations show the envelope propagates at the so-called group velocity vg:
v_{rm p} = frac{Delta x}{Delta t} = lambda_{rm mod}Delta f =lambda^2 frac{Delta f}{Delta lambda} .
A more common expression for the group velocity is obtained by introducing the wavevector k:
k=frac{2pi}{lambda} .
We notice that for small changes Î”Î», the magnitude of the corresponding small change in wavevector, say Î”k, is:
Delta k = left|frac{dk}{dlambda}right|Delta lambda = 2pi frac{Delta lambda}{lambda^2} ,
so the group velocity can be rewritten as:
v_{rm g}= frac {2piDelta f}{Delta k} =frac {Delta omega}{Delta k} ,
where Ï‰ is the frequency in radians/s: Ï‰ = 2{{pi}}f. In all media, frequency and wavevector are related by a dispersion relation, Ï‰ = Ï‰(k), and the group velocity can be written:
v_{rm g} =frac{domega (k)}{dk} .
(File:Phonon dispersion relations in GaAs.png|thumb|200px|Dispersion relation ω=ω(k) for some waves corresponding to lattice vibrations in GaAs.)In a medium such as classical vacuum the dispersion relation for electromagnetic waves is:
omega = c_0 k
where c0 is the speed of light in classical vacuum. For this case, the phase and group velocities both are c0.In so-called dispersive media the dispersion relation can be a complicated function of wavevector, and the phase and group velocities are not the same. For example, for several types of waves exhibited by atomic vibrations (phonons) in GaAs, the dispersion relations are shown in the figure for various directions of wavevector k. In the general case, the phase and group velocities may have different directions.

## Example: envelope function approximation

{{See also|kÂ·p perturbation theory}}File:Electron probabilities in GaAs quantum well.png|thumb|Electron probabilities in lowest two quantum states of a 160Çº GaAs quantum well in a GaAs-GaAlAs heterostructure as calculated from envelope functions.]]In condensed matter physics an energy eigenfunction for a mobile charge carrier in a crystal can be expressed as a Bloch wave:
psi_{nmathbf{k}}(mathbf{r})=e^{imathbf{k}cdotmathbf{r}}u_{nmathbf{k}}(mathbf{r}) ,
where n is the index for the band (for example, conduction or valence band) r is a spatial location, and k is a wavevector. The exponential is a sinusoidally varying function corresponding to a slowly varying envelope modulating the rapidly varying part of the wavefunction u'n,k describing the behavior of the wavefunction close to the cores of the atoms of the lattice. The envelope is restricted to k-values within a range limited by the Brillouin zone of the crystal, and that limits how rapidly it can vary with location r'''.In determining the behavior of the carriers using quantum mechanics, the envelope approximation usually is used in which the SchrÃ¶dinger equation is simplified to refer only to the behavior of the envelope, and boundary conditions are applied to the envelope function directly, rather than to the complete wavefunction. For example, the wavefunction of a carrier trapped near an impurity is governed by an envelope function F that governs a superposition of Bloch functions:
psi( mathbf r )= sum_{mathbf k } F( mathbf k ) e^{imathbf{kcdot r}}u_{mathbf {k}}(mathbf r ) ,
where the Fourier components of the envelope F(k) are found from the approximate SchrÃ¶dinger equation. In some applications, the periodic part uk is replaced by its value near the band edge, say k=k0, and then:
psi( mathbf r )approx left( sum_{mathbf k } F( mathbf k ) e^{imathbf{kcdot r}}right)u_{mathbf{k}=mathbf{k}_0}(mathbf r ) = F( mathbf r )u_{mathbf{k}=mathbf{k}_0}(mathbf r ) .

## Example: diffraction patterns

{{See also|Diffraction}}(File:Double-slit diffraction pattern.png|thumb|200px|Diffraction pattern of a double slit has a single-slit envelope.)Diffraction patterns from multiple slits have envelopes determined by the single slit diffraction pattern. For a single slit the pattern is given by:
I_1=I_0 sin^2left(frac {pi d sin alpha}{lambda}right) / left(frac {pi d sin alpha }{lambda}right)^2 ,
where Î± is the diffraction angle, d is the slit width, and Î» is the wavelength. For multiple slits, the pattern is
I_q = I_1 sin^2 left( frac {qpi g sin alpha} {lambda} right) / sin^2 left( frac{ pi g sin alpha}{lambda}right) ,
where q is the number of slits, and g is the grating constant. The first factor, the single-slit result I1, modulates the more rapidly varying second factor that depends upon the number of slits and their spacing.

## References

{{citizendium|title=Envelope function}}

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