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An optical medium is material through which electromagnetic waves propagate. It is a form of transmission medium. The permittivity and permeability of the medium define how electromagnetic waves propagate in it. The medium has an intrinsic impedance, given by

where and are the electric field and magnetic field, respectively. In a region with no electrical conductivity, the expression simplifies to:

For example, in free space the intrinsic impedance is called the characteristic impedance of vacuum, denoted Z0, and

where and are the electric field and magnetic field, respectively. In a region with no electrical conductivity, the expression simplifies to:

For example, in free

For example, in free space the intrinsic impedance is called the characteristic impedance of vacuum, denoted Z0, and