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Resonance is a phenomenon that occurs when an object or system is subjected to an external force or vibration that matches its natural frequency. When this happens, the object or system absorbs energy from the external force and starts vibrating with a larger amplitude. Resonance can occur in various systems, such as mechanical, electrical, or acoustic systems, and it is often desirable in certain applications, such as musical instruments or radio receivers. However, resonance can also be detrimental, leading to excessive vibrations or even structural failure in some cases.
All systems, including molecular systems and particles, tend to vibrate at a natural frequency depending upon their structure; this frequency is known as a resonant frequency or resonance frequency. When an oscillating force, an external vibration, is applied at a resonant frequency of a dynamic system, object, or particle, the outside vibration will cause the system to oscillate at a higher amplitude (with more force) than when the same force is applied at other, non-resonant frequencies.
The resonant frequencies of a system can be identified when the response to an external vibration creates an amplitude that is a relative maximum within the system. Small periodic forces that are near a resonant frequency of the system have the ability to produce large amplitude oscillations in the system due to the storage of vibrational energy.
Resonance phenomena occur with all types of vibrations or waves: there is mechanical resonance, orbital resonance, acoustic resonance, electromagnetic resonance, nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR), electron spin resonance (ESR) and resonance of quantum wave functions. Resonant systems can be used to generate vibrations of a specific frequency (e.g., musical instruments), or pick out specific frequencies from a complex vibration containing many frequencies (e.g., filters).
The term resonance (from Latin resonantia, 'echo', from resonare, 'resound') originated from the field of acoustics, particularly the sympathetic resonance observed in musical instruments, e.g., when one string starts to vibrate and produce sound after a different one is struck.