Pictures of Wave Vector - stargate-rasa.info

In a lossless isotropic medium such as air, any gas, any liquid, or some solids (such as glass), the direction of the wavevector is exactly the same as the direction of wave propagation. If the medium is anisotropic, the wave vector in general points in directions other than that of the wave propagation. The condition for the wave vector to point in the same direction in which the wave propagates is that the wave has to be homogeneous, which isn't necessarily satisfied when the medium is anisotropic. In a homogeneous wave, the surfaces of constant phase are also surfaces of constant amplitude. In case of heterogeneous waves, these two species of surfaces differ in orientation. The wave vector is always perpendicular to surfaces of constant phase.