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Law of Reflection

The Law of Reflection states that the angle of incidence is equal to the angle of reflection.

θ i = θ r

The simplest example of the law of incidence is if the angle of incidence is 0 . In this case, the angle of reflection is also 0 . You see this when you look straight into a mirror.

When a wave strikes a surface at right angles to the surface, then the wave is reflected directly back.

If the angle of incidence is not 0 , then the angle of reflection is also not 0 . For example, if a light strikes a surface at 60 to the surface normal, then the angle that the reflected ray makes with the surface normal is also 60 as shown in [link] .

Ray diagram showing angle of incidence and angle of reflection. The Law of Reflection states that when a light ray reflects off a surface, the angle of reflection θ r is the same as the angle of incidence θ i .

An incident ray strikes a smooth reflective surface at an angle of 33 to the surface normal. Calculate the angle of reflection.

  1. We are given the angle between the incident ray and the surface normal. This is the angle of incidence.

    We are required to calculate the angle of reflection.

  2. We can use the Law of Reflection, which states that the angle of incidence is equal to the angle of reflection.

  3. We are given the angle of incidence to be 33 . Therefore, the angle of reflection is also 33 .

Types of reflection

The Law of Reflection holds for every light ray. Does this mean that when parallel rays approach a surface, the reflected rays will also be parallel? This depends on the texture of the reflecting surface.

Specular and diffuse reflection.

Specular reflection

[link] (a) shows a surface that is flat and even. Parallel incident light rays hit the smooth surface and parallel reflected light rays leave the surface. This type of reflection is called specular reflection . Specular reflection occurs when rays are reflected from a smooth, shiny surface. The normal to the surface is the same at every point on the surface. Parallel incident rays become parallel reflected rays. When you look in a mirror, the image you see is formed by specular reflection.

Diffuse reflection

[link] (b) shows a surface with bumps and curves. When multiple rays hit this uneven surface, diffuse reflection occurs. The incident rays are parallel but the reflected rays are not. Each point on the surface has a different normal. This means the angle of incidence is different at each point. Then according to the Law of Reflection, each angle of reflection is different. Diffuse reflection occurs when light rays are reflected from bumpy surfaces. You can still see a reflection as long as the surface is not too bumpy. Diffuse reflection enables us to see all objects that are not sources of light.

Experiment : specular and diffuse reflection

A bouncing ball can be used to demonstrate the basic difference between specular and diffuse reflection.


To demonstrate and compare specular and diffuse reflection.

Questions & Answers

what is variations in raman spectra for nanomaterials
Jyoti Reply
I only see partial conversation and what's the question here!
Crow Reply
what about nanotechnology for water purification
RAW Reply
please someone correct me if I'm wrong but I think one can use nanoparticles, specially silver nanoparticles for water treatment.
yes that's correct
I think
what is the stm
Brian Reply
is there industrial application of fullrenes. What is the method to prepare fullrene on large scale.?
industrial application...? mmm I think on the medical side as drug carrier, but you should go deeper on your research, I may be wrong
How we are making nano material?
what is a peer
What is meant by 'nano scale'?
What is STMs full form?
scanning tunneling microscope
how nano science is used for hydrophobicity
Do u think that Graphene and Fullrene fiber can be used to make Air Plane body structure the lightest and strongest. Rafiq
what is differents between GO and RGO?
what is simplest way to understand the applications of nano robots used to detect the cancer affected cell of human body.? How this robot is carried to required site of body cell.? what will be the carrier material and how can be detected that correct delivery of drug is done Rafiq
what is Nano technology ?
Bob Reply
write examples of Nano molecule?
The nanotechnology is as new science, to scale nanometric
nanotechnology is the study, desing, synthesis, manipulation and application of materials and functional systems through control of matter at nanoscale
Is there any normative that regulates the use of silver nanoparticles?
Damian Reply
what king of growth are you checking .?
What fields keep nano created devices from performing or assimulating ? Magnetic fields ? Are do they assimilate ?
Stoney Reply
why we need to study biomolecules, molecular biology in nanotechnology?
Adin Reply
yes I'm doing my masters in nanotechnology, we are being studying all these domains as well..
what school?
biomolecules are e building blocks of every organics and inorganic materials.
anyone know any internet site where one can find nanotechnology papers?
Damian Reply
sciencedirect big data base
Introduction about quantum dots in nanotechnology
Praveena Reply
what does nano mean?
Anassong Reply
nano basically means 10^(-9). nanometer is a unit to measure length.
do you think it's worthwhile in the long term to study the effects and possibilities of nanotechnology on viral treatment?
Damian Reply
absolutely yes
how did you get the value of 2000N.What calculations are needed to arrive at it
Smarajit Reply
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Source:  OpenStax, Maths test. OpenStax CNX. Feb 09, 2011 Download for free at http://cnx.org/content/col11236/1.2
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