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What is Radiant Energy?

Radiant energy is the power harnessed from electromagnetic waves, such as light and heat. It's the invisible force that warms our skin in sunlight and powers technologies like solar panels. This energy is all around us, playing a crucial role in our daily lives and the sustainability of our planet. Discover how this energy shapes our world and what it means for our future.
Daniel Liden
Daniel Liden

Energy that comes from electromagnetic waves is called radiant energy. Electromagnetic waves take many forms, from microwaves to X-rays to visible light. Radiant energy is, like most forms of energy, measured in joules and is calculated by integrating the radiant flux (power) of the electromagnetic wave with respect to time.

There are two different views of how electromagnetic waves carry energy, and both are considered accurate because of the wave-particle duality concept of quantum theory. Wave-particle duality states that electromagnetic waves act both as physical particles, photons, and as oscillating waves. Radiant energy can be viewed as the energy stored in the photons. It can also be seen as the energy carried in the oscillating magnetic and electrical field produced by the wave-like motion of the electromagnetic wave.

Radiant energy is used in photosynthesis.
Radiant energy is used in photosynthesis.

Radiant energy is important to experiments and tasks relating to open systems. In most sciences, an open system is any system that openly exchanges energy with its external environment. Solar energy involves an open system, as the sun's electromagnetic rays are part of the environment while the solar energy collectors and the devices they power are a part of the system. Such energy is also used in photosynthesis as the waves are absorbed by chloroplasts in the cells.

People have devised many uses for radiant energy, which exists in great abundance. The energy from the sun is used to power a wide variety of devices. Radiant heating is another common use of this type of energy. The heat energy is released from walls, ceilings, or other surfaces and is used to heat the objects in the area of the waves directly rather than simply heating the surrounding air, as a fire would do. Such energy can also be used medically in the treatment of some muscular problems.

Nikola Tesla was a pioneer in the study of radiant energy. While some of his theories and ideas were eventually shown to be absurd, others paved the way for many technologies that are now widely-used. He invented one of the first wireless phones to be based on this form of energy. The phone utilized transmitters and receivers that could be turned to the same frequencies to facilitate communication.

Radiant energy is a very abundant resource on Earth. All electromagnetic waves contain such energy. It is easily and commonly generated artificially, and it exists in massive amounts in the natural environment. As scientists learn how to better use the power of electromagnetic waves, the uses for their energy will surely increase in effectiveness and number.

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Discussion Comments


@sapphire12, There are in fact many ways in which radiant energy can help increase renewable energy sources. Solar radiant energy already prevalent in agriculture; another way in which to better use this energy is to revolutionize farming by growing crops which use the solar energy they receive more efficiently. The reduction of livestock raised for food would also be a way to better use radiant energy, as much of the energy in the food cows and other animals eat does not transfer to the animals that could them, such as humans.


Radiant energy could be the key to many possible solutions for the world' current energy problems. Solar power energy, in particular, is a way that a growing number of people can power their homes using naturally free radiant energy, merely by having the right equipment in place.


this site is very useful for pupils and students so that they will learn many things about this and other topics.

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    • Radiant energy is used in photosynthesis.
      By: Vitaly Krivosheev
      Radiant energy is used in photosynthesis.