<< Chapter < Page Chapter >> Page >
Index of refraction n In selected media at various wavelengths
Medium Red (660 nm) Orange (610 nm) Yellow (580 nm) Green (550 nm) Blue (470 nm) Violet (410 nm)
Water 1.331 1.332 1.333 1.335 1.338 1.342
Diamond 2.410 2.415 2.417 2.426 2.444 2.458
Glass, crown 1.512 1.514 1.518 1.519 1.524 1.530
Glass, flint 1.662 1.665 1.667 1.674 1.684 1.698
Polystyrene 1.488 1.490 1.492 1.493 1.499 1.506
Quartz, fused 1.455 1.456 1.458 1.459 1.462 1.468
Figure (a) shows a triangle representing a prism and a pure wavelength of incident light falling onto it and getting refracted at both sides of the prism. The refracted ray runs parallel to the base of the prism and then emerges after getting refracted from the other surface. Figure (b) shows a triangle representing a prism and an incident white light falling onto it and getting refracted at the first surface with two refracted rays with slightly different angles of separation. The refracted rays, on falling on the second surface, refract with various angles of refraction. A sequence of red to violet is produced when light emerges out of the prism. Red at 760 nanometers and violet at 380 nanometers.
(a) A pure wavelength of light falls onto a prism and is refracted at both surfaces. (b) White light is dispersed by the prism (shown exaggerated). Since the index of refraction varies with wavelength, the angles of refraction vary with wavelength. A sequence of red to violet is produced, because the index of refraction increases steadily with decreasing wavelength.

Rainbows are produced by a combination of refraction and reflection. You may have noticed that you see a rainbow only when you look away from the sun. Light enters a drop of water and is reflected from the back of the drop, as shown in [link] . The light is refracted both as it enters and as it leaves the drop. Since the index of refraction of water varies with wavelength, the light is dispersed, and a rainbow is observed, as shown in [link] (a). (There is no dispersion caused by reflection at the back surface, since the law of reflection does not depend on wavelength.) The actual rainbow of colors seen by an observer depends on the myriad of rays being refracted and reflected toward the observer’s eyes from numerous drops of water. The effect is most spectacular when the background is dark, as in stormy weather, but can also be observed in waterfalls and lawn sprinklers. The arc of a rainbow comes from the need to be looking at a specific angle relative to the direction of the sun, as illustrated in [link] (b). (If there are two reflections of light within the water drop, another “secondary” rainbow is produced. This rare event produces an arc that lies above the primary rainbow arc—see [link] (c).)

Rainbows

Rainbows are produced by a combination of refraction and reflection.

Sun light incident on a spherical water droplet gets refracted at various angles. The refracted rays further undergo total internal reflection and when they leave the water droplet, a sequence of colors ranging from violet to red is formed.
Part of the light falling on this water drop enters and is reflected from the back of the drop. This light is refracted and dispersed both as it enters and as it leaves the drop.
In figure (a) sunlight is incident on two water droplets close to one another. The incident rays undergo refraction and total internal reflection. From the first droplet, violet color emerges and from the second, red emerges. A woman observes from a distance, the band of seven colors with red on top and violet at the bottom. Two rays each from red and violet reach the observer’s eyes. The angle of separation between the incident light and the emerging red light is theta. In figure (b), a man looks at the rainbow, which is in the shape of an arc. A parallel beam of blue colored rays fall on the rainbow at different positions and then reaches the observer, each ray making the same angle theta with the incident ray. The rays reaching the observer are red in color. Figure (c) shows a spectacular double rainbow in the sky with white clouds as a backdrop.
(a) Different colors emerge in different directions, and so you must look at different locations to see the various colors of a rainbow. (b) The arc of a rainbow results from the fact that a line between the observer and any point on the arc must make the correct angle with the parallel rays of sunlight to receive the refracted rays. (c) Double rainbow. (credit: Nicholas, Wikimedia Commons)

Dispersion may produce beautiful rainbows, but it can cause problems in optical systems. White light used to transmit messages in a fiber is dispersed, spreading out in time and eventually overlapping with other messages. Since a laser produces a nearly pure wavelength, its light experiences little dispersion, an advantage over white light for transmission of information. In contrast, dispersion of electromagnetic waves coming to us from outer space can be used to determine the amount of matter they pass through. As with many phenomena, dispersion can be useful or a nuisance, depending on the situation and our human goals.

Phet explorations: geometric optics

How does a lens form an image? See how light rays are refracted by a lens. Watch how the image changes when you adjust the focal length of the lens, move the object, move the lens, or move the screen.

Geometric Optics

Section summary

  • The spreading of white light into its full spectrum of wavelengths is called dispersion.
  • Rainbows are produced by a combination of refraction and reflection and involve the dispersion of sunlight into a continuous distribution of colors.
  • Dispersion produces beautiful rainbows but also causes problems in certain optical systems.

Problems&Exercises

(a) What is the ratio of the speed of red light to violet light in diamond, based on [link] ? (b) What is this ratio in polystyrene? (c) Which is more dispersive?

Got questions? Get instant answers now!

A beam of white light goes from air into water at an incident angle of 75 . size 12{"75" "." 0°} {} . At what angles are the red (660 nm) and violet (410 nm) parts of the light refracted?

46 . , red; 46 . , violet

Got questions? Get instant answers now!

By how much do the critical angles for red (660 nm) and violet (410 nm) light differ in a diamond surrounded by air?

Got questions? Get instant answers now!

(a) A narrow beam of light containing yellow (580 nm) and green (550 nm) wavelengths goes from polystyrene to air, striking the surface at a 30 . size 12{"30" "." 0°} {} incident angle. What is the angle between the colors when they emerge? (b) How far would they have to travel to be separated by 1.00 mm?

(a) 0 . 043º size 12{0 "." "043"°} {}

(b) 1 . 33 m size 12{1 "." "33"" m"} {}

Got questions? Get instant answers now!

A parallel beam of light containing orange (610 nm) and violet (410 nm) wavelengths goes from fused quartz to water, striking the surface between them at a 60 . size 12{"60" "." 0°} {} incident angle. What is the angle between the two colors in water?

Got questions? Get instant answers now!

A ray of 610 nm light goes from air into fused quartz at an incident angle of 55 . size 12{"55" "." 0°} {} . At what incident angle must 470 nm light enter flint glass to have the same angle of refraction?

71.3º size 12{"71" "." 3°} {}

Got questions? Get instant answers now!

A narrow beam of light containing red (660 nm) and blue (470 nm) wavelengths travels from air through a 1.00 cm thick flat piece of crown glass and back to air again. The beam strikes at a 30 . size 12{"30" "." 0°} {} incident angle. (a) At what angles do the two colors emerge? (b) By what distance are the red and blue separated when they emerge?

Got questions? Get instant answers now!

A narrow beam of white light enters a prism made of crown glass at a 45 . size 12{"45" "." 0°} {} incident angle, as shown in [link] . At what angles, θ R and θ V , do the red (660 nm) and violet (410 nm) components of the light emerge from the prism?

A blue incident light ray at an angle of incidence equal to 45 degrees falls on an equilateral triangular prism with angles each equal to 60 degrees. On falling onto the first surface, the ray refracts and splits into red and violet rays. These rays falling onto the second surface and emerge from the prism. Red with 660 nanometers and violet with 410 nanometers.
This prism will disperse the white light into a rainbow of colors. The incident angle is 45 . , and the angles at which the red and violet light emerge are θ R and θ V size 12{q rSub { size 8{V} } } {} .

53.5º , red; size 12{"53" "." 5°," red;"} {} 55.2º , violet size 12{"55" "." 2°," violet"} {}

Got questions? Get instant answers now!

Questions & Answers

A soccer player kicked off a ball at velocity of 62 ft/s at angle 45°. A goal keeper is 43 yard away from the direction in which ball kicked off. At what minimum velocity he runs to meet the ball?
Ram Reply
A soccer player kicked off the ball at the velocity of 62 ft/s at 45° with horizontal.A goal keeper is 43 yard away from the ball kicked position.At what minimum velocity he runs to meet the ball?
Ram
what is torque
Deepak Reply
The turning effect of force is called torque.
Uzair
What is the effect of static electricity
Ruth
what there factors affect the surface tension of a liquid
Promise Reply
formula for impedance
muyiwa Reply
ehat is central forces
Nita Reply
what is distance?
Jonathan Reply
What does mean ohms law imply
Victoria Reply
ohms law state that the electricity passing through a metallic conductor is directly proportional to the potential difference across its end
muyiwa
what is matter
folajin Reply
Anything that occupies space
Kevin
Any thing that has weight and occupies space
Victoria
Anything which we can feel by any of our 5 sense organs
Suraj
Right
Roben
thanks
Suraj
what is a sulphate
Alo
any answers
Alo
the time rate of increase in velocity is called
Blessing Reply
acceleration
Emma
What is uniform velocity
Victoria
Greetings,users of that wonderful app.
Frank Reply
how to solve pressure?
Cruz Reply
how do we calculate weight and eara eg an elefant that weight 2000kg has four fits or legs search of surface eara is 0.1m2(1metre square) incontact with the ground=10m2(g =10m2)
Cruz
P=F/A
Mira
can someone derive the formula a little bit deeper?
Bern
what is coplanar force?
OLADITI Reply
forces acting and lying on d same plane
Promise
what is accuracy and precision
Peace Reply
How does a current follow?
Vineeta Reply
follow?
akif
which one dc or ac current.
akif
how does a current following?
Vineeta
?
akif
AC current
Vineeta
AC current follows due to changing electric field and magnetic field.
akif
you guys are just saying follow is flow not follow please
Abubakar
ok bro thanks
akif
flows
Abubakar
but i wanted to understand him/her in his own language
akif
but I think the statement is written in English not any other language
Abubakar
my mean that in which form he/she written this,will understand better in this form, i write.
akif
ok
Abubakar
ok thanks bro. my mistake
Vineeta
u are welcome
Abubakar
what is a semiconductor
Vineeta Reply
substances having lower forbidden gap between valence band and conduction band
akif
what is a conductor?
Vineeta
replace lower by higher only
akif
convert 56°c to kelvin
Abubakar
How does a current follow?
Vineeta
A semiconductor is any material whose conduction lies between that of a conductor and an insulator.
AKOWUAH
Practice Key Terms 2

Get the best College physics course in your pocket!





Source:  OpenStax, College physics. OpenStax CNX. Jul 27, 2015 Download for free at http://legacy.cnx.org/content/col11406/1.9
Google Play and the Google Play logo are trademarks of Google Inc.

Notification Switch

Would you like to follow the 'College physics' conversation and receive update notifications?

Ask