How a Microwave Oven Works?
How a Microwave Oven Works?
?How a Microwave Oven Works
By: Emmy Mak
קובץ זה נועד אך ורק לשימושם האישי של מורי הפיזיקה ולהוראה בכיתותיהם .אין לעשות שימוש כלשהו
בקובץ זה לכל מטרה אחרת ובכלל זה שימוש מסחרי; פרסום באתר אחר (למעט אתר בית הספר בו מלמד
המורה); העמדה לרשות הציבור או הפצה בדרך אחרת כלשהי של קובץ זה או כל חלק ממנו.
What are Microwaves?
Microwaves are a form of electromagnetic energy, like light
waves or radio waves
Microwaves are used extensively in communications
such as to relay long-distance telephone signals, television programs and
computer information across the earth or to a satellite in space.
Good for transmitting information because it can penetrate
haze, light rain and snow, clouds, and smoke.
Also used in radars and in detecting speeding cars.
Microwave has become most familiar as the energy source
for cooking food.
radiation exists in a
range of frequencies
Each frequency has a
specific wavelength and
as the frequency
decreases, the actual
length of the wave gets
Table 1: Frequency and Wavelength Range of Each Radiation
Type in the Electromagnetic Spectrum.
Frequency Range (Hz)
above 3 x 1019
< 10-12 m
3 x 1017 - 3 x 1019
1 nm - 1 pm
7.5 x 1014 - 3 x 1017
400 nm - 1 nm
3.8 x 1014 - 7.5 x 1014
750 nm - 380 nm
1011 - 3.8 x 1014
25 um - 2.5 um
108 - 1012
1 mm - 25 um
104 - 108
Invented accidentally by Dr. Percy LeBaron Spencer
While testing a magnetron during work, he discovered
the candy bar in his pocket melted
Experimented with other food products (popcorn and
eggs), and realized microwaves can cook foods quickly
At 1947, 1st commercial microwave oven produced
Mostly used by restaurants, railroad cars,
ocean liners and military
Improvement and refinements made ~
by 1967, 1st domestic microwave oven
How the Oven Works
Electricity from the wall outlet travels through the power
cord and enters the microwave oven through a series of
fuse and safety protection circuits
These circuits include various fuses and thermal
protectors that are designed to deactivate the oven in the
event of an electrical short or if an overheating condition
When the oven door is closed, an electrical path is also
established through a series of safety interlock switches
• Sensing that all systems are set to go, the signal activates triac, producing a
voltage path to the high-voltage transformer.
• The high-voltage transformer along with a special diode and capacitor
arrangement increases the typical household voltage from ~115 volts to ~3000
The magnetron converts the high voltage in to the microwave frequency for
The microwave energy is transmitted into a waveguide
The waveguide feeds the energy to the stirrer blade and into the cooking area
When the door is opened, or the timer reaches zero, the microwave energy
Electrons from a hot filament would travel radially to
the outside ring if it were not for the magnetic field.
The magnetic force deflects them as shown and they
tend to sweep around the circle. In doing so, they
“pump” the natural frequency of the cavities. The
currents around the resonant cavities cause them to
radiate electromagnetic energy at that resonant
How Foods Get Cooked
The microwaves that penetrate the food have an electric field
that oscillates 2.45 billion times a second, a frequency that is
well absorbed by polar liquid molecules such as water, sugars,
fats and other food molecules.
Water interacts with the microwave:
flipping its orientation back and forth very rapidly
bumping into one another and producing heat, cooking the food.
Glass, paper, ceramic, or plastic containers are used in
microwave cooking because the microwaves pass through
Metal reflects microwaves
Unsafe to have metal pans/aluminum foil in oven, may damage oven
It is known that microwave radiation can heat body tissue the
same way it heats food.
Exposure to high levels of microwaves can cause a painful
Microwave oven used low level of microwaves, within the
region of non-ionizing radiation
Still uncertain in the effects of humans from long term
exposure to low level of microwaves
Ex. the lens of the eye ~ exposure to high levels of microwaves can
Best to stay a way (an arm’s length) in reducing exposure to
Dalhousie University, Halifax, Nova Scotia.
Homepage of Central Valley Christian School.
Nave, C. R. Hyperphysics. Georgia State University.
Microtech: The Complete Microwave Oven Repair and Information
Wright, Michael and Mukul Patel. Scientific American: How Things
Work Today. New York: Marshall Editions Development Ltd., 2000.