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Constructive interference is the result of two waves with similar phase overlapping. This means that positive parts of one wave tend to overlap with positive parts of the other, and alike for the negative parts. When positive is added to positive and negative is added to negative, the net absolute displacement of the medium is greater than the displacements of the individual waves.

Destructive interference, on the other hand, is the result of two waves with non-similar phase (i.e. anti-phase) overlapping. This means that the positive parts of one wave tend to align with the negative parts of the second wave. When the waves are added together, the positive and negative contributions lead to a net absolute displacement of the medium which is less than the absolute displacements of either of the individual waves. A place where destructive interference takes place is called a node.

Waves can interfere at places where there is never a trough and trough or peak and peak or trough and peak at the same time. At these places the waves will add together and the resultant displacement will be the sum of the two waves but they won't be points of maximum interference.

Consider the two identical waves shown in the picture below. The wavefronts of the peaks are shown as black lines while the wavefronts of the troughs are shown as grey lines. You can see that the black lines cross other black lines in many places. This means two peaks are in the same place at the same time so we will have constructive interference where the two peaks add together to form a bigger peak.

Two points sources (A and B) radiate identical waves. The wavefronts of the peaks (black lines) and troughs (grey lines) are shown. Constructive interference occurs where two black lines intersect or where two gray lines intersect. Destructive interference occurs where a black line intersects with a grey line.

When the grey lines cross other grey lines there are two troughs in the same place at the same time so we will have constructive interference where the two troughs add together to form a bigger trough.

In the case where a grey line crosses a black line we are seeing a trough and peak at the same time. These will cancel each other out and the medium will have no displacement at that point.

  • black line + black line = peak + peak = constructive interference
  • grey line + grey line = trough + trough = constructive interference
  • black line + grey line = grey line + black line = peak + trough = trough + peak = destructive interference

On half the picture below, we have marked the constructive interference with a solid black diamond and the destructive interference with a hollow diamond.

To see if you understand it, cover up the half we have marked with diamonds and try to work out which points are constructive and destructive on the other half of the picture. The two halves are mirror images of each other so you can check yourself.

Diffraction

One of the most interesting, and also very useful, properties of waves is diffraction .

Questions & Answers

how can chip be made from sand
Eke Reply
are nano particles real
Missy Reply
yeah
Joseph
Hello, if I study Physics teacher in bachelor, can I study Nanotechnology in master?
Lale Reply
no can't
Lohitha
where we get a research paper on Nano chemistry....?
Maira Reply
nanopartical of organic/inorganic / physical chemistry , pdf / thesis / review
Ali
what are the products of Nano chemistry?
Maira Reply
There are lots of products of nano chemistry... Like nano coatings.....carbon fiber.. And lots of others..
learn
Even nanotechnology is pretty much all about chemistry... Its the chemistry on quantum or atomic level
learn
Google
da
no nanotechnology is also a part of physics and maths it requires angle formulas and some pressure regarding concepts
Bhagvanji
hey
Giriraj
Preparation and Applications of Nanomaterial for Drug Delivery
Hafiz Reply
revolt
da
Application of nanotechnology in medicine
has a lot of application modern world
Kamaluddeen
yes
narayan
what is variations in raman spectra for nanomaterials
Jyoti Reply
ya I also want to know the raman spectra
Bhagvanji
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.
Damian
yes that's correct
Professor
I think
Professor
Nasa has use it in the 60's, copper as water purification in the moon travel.
Alexandre
nanocopper obvius
Alexandre
what is the stm
Brian Reply
is there industrial application of fullrenes. What is the method to prepare fullrene on large scale.?
Rafiq
industrial application...? mmm I think on the medical side as drug carrier, but you should go deeper on your research, I may be wrong
Damian
How we are making nano material?
LITNING Reply
what is a peer
LITNING Reply
What is meant by 'nano scale'?
LITNING Reply
What is STMs full form?
LITNING
scanning tunneling microscope
Sahil
how nano science is used for hydrophobicity
Santosh
Do u think that Graphene and Fullrene fiber can be used to make Air Plane body structure the lightest and strongest. Rafiq
Rafiq
what is differents between GO and RGO?
Mahi
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
Rafiq
if virus is killing to make ARTIFICIAL DNA OF GRAPHENE FOR KILLED THE VIRUS .THIS IS OUR ASSUMPTION
Anam
analytical skills graphene is prepared to kill any type viruses .
Anam
Any one who tell me about Preparation and application of Nanomaterial for drug Delivery
Hafiz
what is Nano technology ?
Bob Reply
write examples of Nano molecule?
Bob
The nanotechnology is as new science, to scale nanometric
brayan
nanotechnology is the study, desing, synthesis, manipulation and application of materials and functional systems through control of matter at nanoscale
Damian
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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