Understanding Light, Wavelengths and Spectrum

Visible light is a form of electromagnetic radiation (EMR). EMR exists throughout the universe, and is basically small packets of energy that travel from one point in space to another at 186,282 miles per second (the speed of light). As these particles travel, they follow a wave pattern, and oscillate up and down between high and low points along the way. 

The distance between each peak is called the wavelength. Wavelengths are measured in meters, micrometers and nanometers; the shorter that distance, the higher the particle’s energy and frequency.

TWO of the optimal wavelengths for affecting mitochondria metabolism ARE 830NM and 670 nm.1

Radio waves have very long wavelengths, ranging between one and ten meters between each wave peak. In X-rays or gamma rays, particles pack a lot more energy and travel at very short wavelengths, smaller than a nanometer. When these particles are traveling at wavelengths between about 400 and 700 nanometers, we can see them, and that is what makes up visible light.

Some Light Wavelengths are Easily Absorbed, and Highly Effective

EMR can be absorbed by matter (and this is the basis of photochemistry). But not all wavelengths are as easily absorbed as others. For example, dangerous gamma rays, x-rays, the higher bands of ultraviolet light, and microwaves are not easily absorbed by the atmosphere, while radio waves, infrared and visible light are not absorbed and penetrate the earth's atmosphere.

Likewise, not all wavelengths of light are readily absorbed by the skin or animal cells and certain wavelengths are much more effective in photochemical reactions than others. In particular, NASA's work with LED lights discovered that light in the far red, nearly infrared range at a wavelength of 670 nanometers, is one of two optimal wavelengths for both penetration of the skin and absorption by the mitochondria. Light at the 670nm wavelength can penetrate the skin up to 4 centimeters and travel within tissue up to 20 centimeters, whereas white light energy cannot go nearly as deep.

1 "Photon Therapy in Retinal Injury and Regenerative Disease," Janis T Eells, Ph.D.


This website is intended for healthcare professionals and clinical researchers only. All of the treatments using LED phototherapy devices that are discussed on this website are in various stages of investigation and have not been approved by the FDA except where specifically stated.

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