The hertz (symbol: Hz) is the derived unit of frequency in the International System of Units (SI) and is defined as one cycle per second.[1] It is named for Heinrich Rudolf Hertz, the first person to provide conclusive proof of the existence of electromagnetic waves. Hertz are commonly expressed in multiples: kilohertz (103 Hz, kHz), megahertz (106 Hz, MHz), gigahertz (109 Hz, GHz), terahertz (1012 Hz, THz), petahertz (1015 Hz, PHz), and exahertz (1018 Hz, EHz).

Some of the unit's most common uses are in the description of sine waves and musical tones, particularly those used in radio- and audio-related applications. It is also used to describe the speeds at which computers and other electronics are driven.

Unit systemSI derived unit
Unit ofFrequency
Named afterHeinrich Hertz
In SI base unitss−1
Top to bottom: Lights flashing at frequencies f = 0.5 Hz, 1.0 Hz and 2.0 Hz, i.e. at 0.5, 1.0 and 2.0 flashes per second, respectively. The time between each flash – the period T – is given by ​1f (the reciprocal of f ), i.e. 2, 1 and 0.5 seconds, respectively.


The hertz is defined as one cycle per second. The International Committee for Weights and Measures defined the second as "the duration of 9 192 631 770 periods of the radiation corresponding to the transition between the two hyperfine levels of the ground state of the caesium 133 atom"[2][3] and then adds: "It follows that the hyperfine splitting in the ground state of the caesium 133 atom is exactly 9 192 631 770 hertz, ν(hfs Cs) = 9 192 631 770 Hz." The dimension of the unit hertz is 1/time (1/T). Expressed in base SI units it is 1/second (1/s).

In English, "hertz" is also used as the plural form.[4] As an SI unit, Hz can be prefixed; commonly used multiples are kHz (kilohertz, 103 Hz), MHz (megahertz, 106 Hz), GHz (gigahertz, 109 Hz) and THz (terahertz, 1012 Hz). One hertz simply means "one cycle per second" (typically that which is being counted is a complete cycle); 100 Hz means "one hundred cycles per second", and so on. The unit may be applied to any periodic event—for example, a clock might be said to tick at 1 Hz, or a human heart might be said to beat at 1.2 Hz. The occurrence rate of aperiodic or stochastic events is expressed in reciprocal second or inverse second (1/s or s−1) in general or, in the specific case of radioactive decay, in becquerels.[5] Whereas 1 Hz is 1 cycle per second, 1 Bq is 1 aperiodic radionuclide event per second.

Even though angular velocity, angular frequency and the unit hertz all have the dimension 1/s, angular velocity and angular frequency are not expressed in hertz,[6] but rather in an appropriate angular unit such as radians per second. Thus a disc rotating at 60 revolutions per minute (rpm) is said to be rotating at either 2π rad/s or 1 Hz, where the former measures the angular velocity and the latter reflects the number of complete revolutions per second. The conversion between a frequency f measured in hertz and an angular velocity ω measured in radians per second is

and .

This SI unit is named after Heinrich Hertz. As with every International System of Units (SI) unit named for a person, the first letter of its symbol is upper case (Hz). However, when an SI unit is spelled out in English, it is treated as a common noun and should always begin with a lower case letter (hertz)—except in a situation where any word in that position would be capitalized, such as at the beginning of a sentence or in material using title case.


The hertz is named after the German physicist Heinrich Hertz (1857–1894), who made important scientific contributions to the study of electromagnetism. The name was established by the International Electrotechnical Commission (IEC) in 1930.[7] It was adopted by the General Conference on Weights and Measures (CGPM) (Conférence générale des poids et mesures) in 1960, replacing the previous name for the unit, cycles per second (cps), along with its related multiples, primarily kilocycles per second (kc/s) and megacycles per second (Mc/s), and occasionally kilomegacycles per second (kMc/s). The term cycles per second was largely replaced by hertz by the 1970s. One hobby magazine, Electronics Illustrated, declared their intention to stick with the traditional kc., Mc., etc. units.[8]


Wave frequency
A sine wave with varying frequency
Wiggers Diagram
A heartbeat is an example of a non-sinusoidal periodic phenomenon that may be analyzed in terms of frequency. Two cycles are illustrated.


Sound is a traveling longitudinal wave which is an oscillation of pressure. Humans perceive frequency of sound waves as pitch. Each musical note corresponds to a particular frequency which can be measured in hertz. An infant's ear is able to perceive frequencies ranging from 20 Hz to 20,000 Hz; the average adult human can hear sounds between 20 Hz and 16,000 Hz.[9] The range of ultrasound, infrasound and other physical vibrations such as molecular and atomic vibrations extends from a few femtohertz[10] into the terahertz range[11] and beyond.

Electromagnetic radiation

Electromagnetic radiation is often described by its frequency—the number of oscillations of the perpendicular electric and magnetic fields per second—expressed in hertz.

Radio frequency radiation is usually measured in kilohertz (kHz), megahertz (MHz), or gigahertz (GHz). Light is electromagnetic radiation that is even higher in frequency, and has frequencies in the range of tens (infrared) to thousands (ultraviolet) of terahertz. Electromagnetic radiation with frequencies in the low terahertz range (intermediate between those of the highest normally usable radio frequencies and long-wave infrared light) is often called terahertz radiation. Even higher frequencies exist, such as that of gamma rays, which can be measured in exahertz (EHz). (For historical reasons, the frequencies of light and higher frequency electromagnetic radiation are more commonly specified in terms of their wavelengths or photon energies: for a more detailed treatment of this and the above frequency ranges, see electromagnetic spectrum.)


In computers, most central processing units (CPU) are labeled in terms of their clock rate expressed in megahertz (106 Hz) or gigahertz (109 Hz). This specification refers to the frequency of the CPU's master clock signal. This signal is a square wave, which is an electrical voltage that switches between low and high logic values at regular intervals. As the hertz has become the primary unit of measurement accepted by the general populace to determine the performance of a CPU, many experts have criticized this approach, which they claim is an easily manipulable benchmark. Some processors use multiple clock periods to perform a single operation, while others can perform multiple operations in a single cycle.[12] For personal computers, CPU clock speeds have ranged from approximately 1 MHz in the late 1970s (Atari, Commodore, Apple computers) to up to 6 GHz in IBM POWER microprocessors.

Various computer buses, such as the front-side bus connecting the CPU and northbridge, also operate at various frequencies in the megahertz range.

SI multiples

SI multiples of hertz (Hz)
Submultiples Multiples
Value SI symbol Name Value SI symbol Name
10−1 Hz dHz decihertz 101 Hz daHz decahertz
10−2 Hz cHz centihertz 102 Hz hHz hectohertz
10−3 Hz mHz millihertz 103 Hz kHz kilohertz
10−6 Hz µHz microhertz 106 Hz MHz megahertz
10−9 Hz nHz nanohertz 109 Hz GHz gigahertz
10−12 Hz pHz picohertz 1012 Hz THz terahertz
10−15 Hz fHz femtohertz 1015 Hz PHz petahertz
10−18 Hz aHz attohertz 1018 Hz EHz exahertz
10−21 Hz zHz zeptohertz 1021 Hz ZHz zettahertz
10−24 Hz yHz yoctohertz 1024 Hz YHz yottahertz
Common prefixed units are in bold face.

Higher frequencies than the International System of Units provides prefixes for are believed to occur naturally in the frequencies of the quantum-mechanical vibrations of high-energy, or, equivalently, massive particles, although these are not directly observable and must be inferred from their interactions with other phenomena. By convention, these are typically not expressed in hertz, but in terms of the equivalent quantum energy, which is proportional to the frequency by the factor of Planck's constant.

See also

Notes and references

  1. ^ "hertz". (1992). American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language (3rd ed.), Boston: Houghton Mifflin.
  2. ^ "SI brochure: Table 3. Coherent derived units in the SI with special names and symbols".
  3. ^ "[Resolutions of the] CIPM, 1964 – Atomic and molecular frequency standards" (PDF). SI brochure, Appendix 1.
  4. ^ NIST Guide to SI Units – 9 Rules and Style Conventions for Spelling Unit Names, National Institute of Standards and Technology
  5. ^ "(d) The hertz is used only for periodic phenomena, and the becquerel (Bq) is used only for stochastic processes in activity referred to a radionuclide." "BIPM – Table 3". BIPM. Retrieved 2012-10-24.
  6. ^ "SI brochure, Section 2.2.2, paragraph 6". Archived from the original on 1 October 2009.
  7. ^ "IEC History". Iec.ch. 1904-09-15. Retrieved 2012-04-28.
  8. ^ Cartwright, Rufus (March 1967). Beason, Robert G., ed. "Will Success Spoil Heinrich Hertz?" (PDF). Electronics Illustrated. Fawcett Publications, Inc. pp. 98–99. Retrieved 2016-03-29.
  9. ^ Ernst Terhardt (20 February 2000). "Dominant spectral region". Mmk.e-technik.tu-muenchen.de. Archived from the original on 26 April 2012. Retrieved 28 April 2012.
  10. ^ "Black Hole Sound Waves - Science Mission Directorate". science.nasa.go.
  11. ^ Atomic vibrations are typically on the order of tens of terahertz
  12. ^ Asaravala, Amit (2004-03-30). "Good Riddance, Gigahertz". Wired.com. Retrieved 2012-04-28.

External links

52-hertz whale

The 52-hertz whale is an individual whale of unidentified species, which calls at the very unusual frequency of 52 Hz. This pitch is a much higher frequency than that of the other whale species with migration patterns most closely resembling this whale's – the blue whale (10–39 Hz) or fin whale (20 Hz). It has been detected regularly in many locations since the late 1980s and appears to be the only individual emitting a whale call at this frequency. It has been described as the "world's loneliest whale".


Bandwidth has several related meanings:

Bandwidth (signal processing) or analog bandwidth, frequency bandwidth or radio bandwidth, a measure of the width of a range of frequencies, measured in hertz

Bandwidth (computing), the rate of data transfer, bit rate or throughput, measured in bits per second (bit/s)

Spectral linewidth, the width of an atomic or molecular spectral line, measured in HertzBandwidth may also refer to:

Bandwidth (company), an American communications provider

Bandwidth (linear algebra), the width of the non-zero terms around the diagonal of a matrix

In statistics kernel density estimation, the width of the convolution kernel used

In language expectancy theory, a normative expected range of linguistic behavior

In business jargon, the resources needed to complete a task or project

Bandwidth (radio program), a Canadian radio program

Graph bandwidth, in graph theory

Coherence bandwidth, a frequency range over which a channel can be considered "flat"

Power bandwidth of an amplifier, a frequency range for which power output exceeds a given fraction of full rated power

Carl Hertz

Carl Hertz (May 14, 1859 – March 20, 1924) was an American magician.

Electromagnetic spectrum

The electromagnetic spectrum is the range of frequencies (the spectrum) of electromagnetic radiation and their respective wavelengths and photon energies.

The electromagnetic spectrum covers electromagnetic waves with frequencies ranging from below one hertz to above 1025 hertz, corresponding to wavelengths from thousands of kilometers down to a fraction of the size of an atomic nucleus. This frequency range is divided into separate bands, and the electromagnetic waves within each frequency band are called by different names; beginning at the low frequency (long wavelength) end of the spectrum these are: radio waves, microwaves, infrared, visible light, ultraviolet, X-rays, and gamma rays at the high-frequency (short wavelength) end. The electromagnetic waves in each of these bands have different characteristics, such as how they are produced, how they interact with matter, and their practical applications. The limit for long wavelengths is the size of the universe itself, while it is thought that the short wavelength limit is in the vicinity of the Planck length. Gamma rays, X-rays, and high ultraviolet are classified as ionizing radiation as their photons have enough energy to ionize atoms, causing chemical reactions. Exposure to these rays can be a health hazard, causing radiation sickness, DNA damage and cancer. Radiation of visible light wavelengths and lower are called nonionizing radiation as they cannot cause these effects.

In most of the frequency bands above, a technique called spectroscopy can be used to physically separate waves of different frequencies, producing a spectrum showing the constituent frequencies. Spectroscopy is used to study the interactions of electromagnetic waves with matter. Other technological uses are described under electromagnetic radiation.

Franck–Hertz experiment

The Franck–Hertz experiment was the first electrical measurement to clearly show the quantum nature of atoms, and thus "transformed our understanding of the world". It was presented on April 24, 1914, to the German Physical Society in a paper by James Franck and Gustav Hertz. Franck and Hertz had designed a vacuum tube for studying energetic electrons that flew through a thin vapor of mercury atoms. They discovered that, when an electron collided with a mercury atom, it could lose only a specific quantity (4.9 electron volts) of its kinetic energy before flying away. This energy loss corresponds to decelerating the electron from a speed of about 1.3 million meters per second to zero. A faster electron does not decelerate completely after a collision, but loses precisely the same amount of its kinetic energy. Slower electrons merely bounce off mercury atoms without losing any significant speed or kinetic energy.

These experimental results proved to be consistent with the Bohr model for atoms that had been proposed the previous year by Niels Bohr. The Bohr model was a precursor of quantum mechanics and of the electron shell model of atoms. Its key feature was that an electron inside an atom occupies one of the atom's "quantum energy levels". Before the collision, an electron inside the mercury atom occupies its lowest available energy level. After the collision, the electron inside occupies a higher energy level with 4.9 electron volts (eV) more energy. This means that the electron is more loosely bound to the mercury atom. There were no intermediate levels or possibilities in Bohr's quantum model. This feature was "revolutionary" because it was inconsistent with the expectation that an electron could be bound to an atom's nucleus by any amount of energy.In a second paper presented in May 1914, Franck and Hertz reported on the light emission by the mercury atoms that had absorbed energy from collisions. They showed that the wavelength of this ultraviolet light corresponded exactly to the 4.9 eV of energy that the flying electron had lost. The relationship of energy and wavelength had also been predicted by Bohr. After a presentation of these results by Franck a few years later, Albert Einstein is said to have remarked, "It's so lovely it makes you cry."On December 10, 1926, Franck and Hertz were awarded the 1925 Nobel Prize in Physics "for their discovery of the laws governing the impact of an electron upon an atom".


Frequency is the number of occurrences of a repeating event per unit of time. It is also referred to as temporal frequency, which emphasizes the contrast to spatial frequency and angular frequency. The period is the duration of time of one cycle in a repeating event, so the period is the reciprocal of the frequency. For example: if a newborn baby's heart beats at a frequency of 120 times a minute, its period—the time interval between beats—is half a second (60 seconds divided by 120 beats). Frequency is an important parameter used in science and engineering to specify the rate of oscillatory and vibratory phenomena, such as mechanical vibrations, audio signals (sound), radio waves, and light.

Greg Hertz

Gregory J. Hertz (born December 30, 1957) is a Republican member of the Montana Legislature. He was elected to House District 11 which represents the Polson area.Hertz served as a Majority Whip of the House during the 2015-2016 session.

Gustav Ludwig Hertz

Gustav Ludwig Hertz (22 July 1887 – 30 October 1975) was a German experimental physicist and Nobel Prize winner for his work on inelastic electron collisions in gases, and a nephew of Heinrich Rudolf Hertz.

HDD Olimpija Ljubljana

Hokejsko drsalno društvo Olimpija Ljubljana, commonly referred to as HDD Olimpija or simply Olimpija, was a Slovenian professional ice hockey from Ljubljana, Slovenia. They played their home games at the Tivoli Hall. Olimpija has won 13 Yugoslav championships and 15 Slovenian championships. They won ten consecutive titles between 1995 and 2004.

Heinrich Hertz

Heinrich Rudolf Hertz (; German: [ˈhaɪ̯nʁɪç ˈhɛɐ̯ts]; 22 February 1857 – 1 January 1894) was a German physicist who first conclusively proved the existence of the electromagnetic waves theorized by James Clerk Maxwell's electromagnetic theory of light. The unit of frequency, cycle per second, was named the "Hertz" in his honor.

Hertz Arena

Hertz Arena is a 7,186-seat multi-purpose arena located in Estero, Florida. The arena opened in November 1998 and serves as the home of the Florida Everblades of the ECHL.

John D. Hertz

John Daniel Hertz, Sr. (April 10, 1879 – October 8, 1961) was an American businessman, thoroughbred racehorse owner and breeder, and philanthropist.

List of school pranks

A school prank is a prank primarily occurring in a school setting. The effect and intent of school pranks may range from everyday play and consensual bonding behavior to crimes including hazing, bullying and assault, including sexual assault.

Naval mine

A naval mine is a self-contained explosive device placed in water to damage or destroy surface ships or submarines. Unlike depth charges, mines are deposited and left to wait until they are triggered by the approach of, or contact with, any vessel. Naval mines can be used offensively, to hamper enemy shipping movements or lock vessels into a harbour; or defensively, to protect friendly vessels and create "safe" zones.

Penske Truck Leasing

Penske Truck Leasing Co., L.P. is a joint venture of Penske Corporation, Penske Automotive Group, and Mitsui & Co., Ltd. Headquartered in Reading, Pennsylvania, the company was founded by Team Penske owner Roger Penske on December 1, 1969. The firm serves customers in North America, South America, Europe, Asia, and Australia; among its services are full-service commercial truck leasing, truck fleet maintenance, truck rentals, and used truck sales. The company employs more than 32,000 workers worldwide. Brian Hard is the president and CEO of the company.

In September 2017, GE sold the last of its stake in Penske for $674 million. The 15.5% stake was purchased by Penske and a subsidiary of Mitsui.

Photoelectric effect

The photoelectric effect is the emission of electrons or other free carriers when light falls on a material. Electrons emitted in this manner can be called photoelectrons. This phenomenon is commonly studied in electronic physics, as well as in fields of chemistry, such as quantum chemistry or electrochemistry.

According to classical electromagnetic theory, this effect can be attributed to the transfer of energy from the light to an electron. From this perspective, an alteration in the intensity of light would induce changes in the kinetic energy of the electrons emitted from the metal. Furthermore, according to this theory, a sufficiently dim light would be expected to show a time lag between the initial shining of its light and the subsequent emission of an electron. However, the experimental results did not correlate with either of the two predictions made by classical theory.Instead, electrons are dislodged only by the impingement of photons when those photons reach or exceed a threshold frequency (energy). Below that threshold, no electrons are emitted from the material regardless of the light intensity or the length of time of exposure to the light. (Rarely, an electron will escape by absorbing two or more quanta. However, this is extremely rare because by the time it absorbs enough quanta to escape, the electron will probably have emitted the rest of the quanta.) To make sense of the fact that light can eject electrons even if its intensity is low, Albert Einstein proposed that a beam of light is not a wave propagating through space, but rather a collection of discrete wave packets (photons), each with energy hν. This shed light on Max Planck's previous discovery of the Planck relation (E = hν) linking energy (E) and frequency (ν) as arising from quantization of energy. The factor h is known as the Planck constant.In 1887, Heinrich Hertz discovered that electrodes illuminated with ultraviolet light create electric sparks more easily. In 1900, while studying black-body radiation, the German physicist Max Planck suggested that the energy carried by electromagnetic waves could only be released in "packets" of energy. In 1905, Albert Einstein published a paper advancing the hypothesis that light energy is carried in discrete quantized packets to explain experimental data from the photoelectric effect. This model contributed to the development of quantum mechanics. In 1914, Millikan's experiment supported Einstein's model of the photoelectric effect. Einstein was awarded the Nobel Prize in 1921 for "his discovery of the law of the photoelectric effect", and Robert Millikan was awarded the Nobel Prize in 1923 for "his work on the elementary charge of electricity and on the photoelectric effect".The photoelectric effect requires photons with energies approaching zero (in the case of negative electron affinity) to over 1 MeV for core electrons in elements with a high atomic number. Emission of conduction electrons from typical metals usually requires a few electron-volts, corresponding to short-wavelength visible or ultraviolet light. Study of the photoelectric effect led to important steps in understanding the quantum nature of light and electrons and influenced the formation of the concept of wave–particle duality. Other phenomena where light affects the movement of electric charges include the photoconductive effect (also known as photoconductivity or photoresistivity), the photovoltaic effect, and the photoelectrochemical effect.

Photoemission can occur from any material, but it is most easily observable from metals or other conductors because the process produces a charge imbalance, and if this charge imbalance is not neutralized by current flow (enabled by conductivity), the potential barrier to emission increases until the emission current ceases. It is also usual to have the emitting surface in a vacuum, since gases impede the flow of photoelectrons and make them difficult to observe. Additionally, the energy barrier to photoemission is usually increased by thin oxide layers on metal surfaces if the metal has been exposed to oxygen, so most practical experiments and devices based on the photoelectric effect use clean metal surfaces in a vacuum.

When the photoelectron is emitted into a solid rather than into a vacuum, the term internal photoemission is often used, and emission into a vacuum distinguished as external photoemission.

Radio wave

Radio waves are a type of electromagnetic radiation with wavelengths in the electromagnetic spectrum longer than infrared light. Radio waves have frequencies as high as 300 gigahertz (GHz) to as low as 30 hertz (Hz). At 300 GHz, the corresponding wavelength is 1 mm, and at 30 Hz is 10,000 km. Like all other electromagnetic waves, radio waves travel at the speed of light. They are generated by electric charges undergoing acceleration, such as time varying electric currents. Naturally occurring radio waves are emitted by lightning and astronomical objects.

Radio waves are generated artificially by transmitters and received by radio receivers, using antennas. Radio waves are very widely used in modern technology for fixed and mobile radio communication, broadcasting, radar and other navigation systems, communications satellites, wireless computer networks and many other applications. Different frequencies of radio waves have different propagation characteristics in the Earth's atmosphere; long waves can diffract around obstacles like mountains and follow the contour of the earth (ground waves), shorter waves can reflect off the ionosphere and return to earth beyond the horizon (skywaves), while much shorter wavelengths bend or diffract very little and travel on a line of sight, so their propagation distances are limited to the visual horizon.

To prevent interference between different users, the artificial generation and use of radio waves is strictly regulated by law, coordinated by an international body called the International Telecommunications Union (ITU), which defines radio waves as "electromagnetic waves of frequencies arbitrarily lower than 3 000 GHz, propagated in space without artificial guide". The radio spectrum is divided into a number of radio bands on the basis of frequency, allocated to different uses.

Super low frequency

Super low frequency (SLF) is the ITU designation for electromagnetic waves (radio waves) in the frequency range between 30 hertz and 300 hertz. They have corresponding wavelengths of 10,000 to 1,000 kilometers. This frequency range includes the frequencies of AC power grids (50 hertz and 60 hertz). Another conflicting designation which includes this frequency range is Extremely Low Frequency (ELF), which in some contexts refers to all frequencies up to 300 hertz.

Because of the extreme difficulty of building transmitters that can generate such long waves, frequencies in this range have been used in very few artificial communication systems. However, SLF waves can penetrate seawater to a depth of hundreds of meters. Therefore, in recent decades the U.S., Russian and Indian military have built huge radio transmitters using SLF frequencies to communicate with their submarines. The U.S. naval service is called Seafarer and operates at 76 hertz. It became operational in 1989 but was discontinued in 2004 due to advances in VLF communication systems. The Russian service is called ZEVS and operates at 82 hertz. The Indian Navy has an operational ELF communication facility at the INS Kattabomman naval base to communicate with its Arihant class and Akula class submarines.The requirements for receivers at SLF frequencies is less stringent than transmitters, because the signal strength (set by atmospheric noise) is far above the noise floor of the receiver, so small, inefficient antennas can be used. Radio amateurs have received signals in this range using simple receivers built around personal computers, with coil or loop antennas connected to the PCs sound card. Signals are analysed by a software fast Fourier transform algorithm and converted into audible sound.

The Hertz Corporation

The Hertz Corporation, a subsidiary of Hertz Global Holdings Inc., is an American car rental company based in Estero, Florida that operates 9,700 corporate and franchisee locations internationally. As the second-largest US car rental company by sales, locations, and fleet size, Hertz operates in 150 countries, including North America, Europe, Latin America, Africa, Asia, Australia, the Caribbean, the Middle East, and New Zealand. The Hertz Corporation owns Dollar and Thrifty Automotive Group—which separates into Thrifty Car Rental and Dollar Rent A Car.

Hertz Global Holdings, the parent company of The Hertz Corporation, was ranked 335th in Forbes' 2017 Fortune 500 list. As of 2017, the company has revenues of US$8.48 billion, assets of US$20 billion, and 37,000 employees.

Base units
Derived units
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Other accepted units
See also

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