mm wave vs microwave-Difference between mm wave and microwave

This page on millimeter wave(mm wave) vs microwave describes difference between millimeter wave(mm wave) and microwave. The useful links to difference between various terms are provided here.

Both mm wave and microwaves fall in electromagnetic(EM) spectrum. mm wave comes after the microwave frequency band. Frequency and wavelength of both are mentioned in the tables below.

Millimeter wave (mm wave)

The name millimeter(mm) has been derived from the wavelength for this EM wave type, as it falls in millimeter range. Millimeter wave is also known as extremely high frequency band.

wave type Operating
Wavelength(meters) Applications
Millimeter wave(mm wave) 30GHz to 300 GHz 10mm to 1 mm millimeter wave imaging, mm wave scanner, medicine, radar

This EM wave is susceptible to the attenuations such as fog, snow or rain depending upon the frequency bands as shown in the figure-1 below. Hence mm wave is used for short distance communications. But they are less affected compare to infrared and optical wavelengths.

mm wave attenuation

There are various band designations used for mm wave(millimeter wave) frequency bands. They are Q band, U band, V band, E band, W band, F band amd D band. Refer millimeter bands for specific frequency range for each bands.

The good performance, excellent precision and manuverity of mmwave systems are very attractive features. Hence these systems are used for defence applications in surveillance and weapons systems based on mm wave radars.


It is the name given to frequency band which is part of electromagnetic spectrum. The frequency range and corresponding wavelength for microwave is mentioned below in the table-2. Microwave frequency is generated using oscillating currents in Gunn diode, IMPATT diode, Tunnel diode as well as vaccum tubes. Refer what is microwave

Microwave frequency bands include L band, S band, C band, X band, Ku band, K band and Ka bands. Refer satellite frequency bands for specific frequency ranges for each of these frequency bands.

wave type Operating
Wavelength(meters) Applications
Microwave 300MHz to 30 GHz 1 to 0.01 meter Television, radar, satellite communications

Difference between mm wave and microwave

Though both mm wave and microwave falls under electromagnetic spectrum, mm wave has following advantages over microwave.
• It has broad bandwidths
• It has higher spatial resolution
• It has low probability of interception and interference
• Size of mm wave antenna and equipments will be smaller
• Weight of antenna and equipments will be less
• Millimeter wave systems will be rugged and reliable
• It need low votage power supplies

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