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  • Discuss the rainbow formation by thin films.

The bright colors seen in an oil slick floating on water or in a sunlit soap bubble are caused by interference. The brightest colors are those that interfere constructively. This interference is between light reflected from different surfaces of a thin film; thus, the effect is known as thin film interference    . As noticed before, interference effects are most prominent when light interacts with something having a size similar to its wavelength. A thin film is one having a thickness t size 12{t} {} smaller than a few times the wavelength of light, λ size 12{λ} {} . Since color is associated indirectly with λ size 12{λ} {} and since all interference depends in some way on the ratio of λ size 12{λ} {} to the size of the object involved, we should expect to see different colors for different thicknesses of a film, as in [link] .

Soap bubbles reflecting mostly purple and blue light with some regions of orange.
These soap bubbles exhibit brilliant colors when exposed to sunlight. (credit: Scott Robinson, Flickr)

What causes thin film interference? [link] shows how light reflected from the top and bottom surfaces of a film can interfere. Incident light is only partially reflected from the top surface of the film (ray 1). The remainder enters the film and is itself partially reflected from the bottom surface. Part of the light reflected from the bottom surface can emerge from the top of the film (ray 2) and interfere with light reflected from the top (ray 1). Since the ray that enters the film travels a greater distance, it may be in or out of phase with the ray reflected from the top. However, consider for a moment, again, the bubbles in [link] . The bubbles are darkest where they are thinnest. Furthermore, if you observe a soap bubble carefully, you will note it gets dark at the point where it breaks. For very thin films, the difference in path lengths of ray 1 and ray 2 in [link] is negligible; so why should they interfere destructively and not constructively? The answer is that a phase change can occur upon reflection. The rule is as follows:

When light reflects from a medium having an index of refraction greater than that of the medium in which it is traveling, a 180º phase change (or a λ / 2 shift) occurs.

The figure shows three materials, or media, stacked one upon the other. The topmost medium is labeled n one, the next is labeled n two and its thickness is t, and the lowest is labeled n three. A light ray labeled incident light starts in the n one medium and propagates down and to the right to strike the n one n two interface. The ray gets partially reflected and partially refracted. The partially reflected ray is labeled ray one. The refracted ray continues downward in the n two medium and is reflected back up from the n two n three interface. This reflected ray, labeled ray two, refracts again upon passing up through the n two n one interface and continues upward parallel to ray one. Ray one and ray two then enter an observer’s eye.
Light striking a thin film is partially reflected (ray 1) and partially refracted at the top surface. The refracted ray is partially reflected at the bottom surface and emerges as ray 2. These rays will interfere in a way that depends on the thickness of the film and the indices of refraction of the various media.

If the film in [link] is a soap bubble (essentially water with air on both sides), then there is a λ / 2 size 12{λ/2} {} shift for ray 1 and none for ray 2. Thus, when the film is very thin, the path length difference between the two rays is negligible, they are exactly out of phase, and destructive interference will occur at all wavelengths and so the soap bubble will be dark here.

The thickness of the film relative to the wavelength of light is the other crucial factor in thin film interference. Ray 2 in [link] travels a greater distance than ray 1. For light incident perpendicular to the surface, ray 2 travels a distance approximately 2 t size 12{2t} {} farther than ray 1. When this distance is an integral or half-integral multiple of the wavelength in the medium ( λ n = λ / n size 12{λ rSub { size 8{n} } =λ/n} {} , where λ size 12{λ} {} is the wavelength in vacuum and n size 12{n} {} is the index of refraction), constructive or destructive interference occurs, depending also on whether there is a phase change in either ray.

Questions & Answers

Why is the sky blue...?
Star Reply
It's filtered light from the 2 forms of radiation emitted from the sun. It's mainly filtered UV rays. There's a theory titled Scatter Theory that covers this topic
Mike
A heating coil of resistance 30π is connected to a 240v supply for 5min to boil a quantity of water in a vessel of heat capacity 200jk. If the initial temperature of water is 20°c and it specific heat capacity is 4200jkgk calculate the mass of water in a vessel
fasawe Reply
A thin equi convex lens is placed on a horizontal plane mirror and a pin held 20 cm vertically above the lens concise in position with its own image the space between the undersurface of d lens and the mirror is filled with water (refractive index =1•33)and then to concise with d image d pin has to
Azummiri Reply
Be raised until its distance from d lens is 27cm find d radius of curvature
Azummiri
what happens when a nuclear bomb and atom bomb bomb explode add the same time near each other
FlAsH Reply
A monkey throws a coconut straight upwards from a coconut tree with a velocity of 10 ms-1. The coconut tree is 30 m high. Calculate the maximum height of the coconut from the top of the coconut tree? Can someone answer my question
Fatinizzah Reply
v2 =u2 - 2gh 02 =10x10 - 2x9.8xh h = 100 ÷ 19.6 answer = 30 - h.
Ramonyai
why is the north side is always referring to n side of magnetic
sam Reply
who is a nurse
Chilekwa Reply
A nurse is a person who takes care of the sick
Bukola
a nurse is also like an assistant to the doctor
Gadjawa
explain me wheatstone bridge
Malik Reply
good app
samuel
Wheatstone bridge is an instrument used to measure an unknown electrical resistance by balancing two legs of a bridge circuit, one leg of which includes the unknown component.
MUHD
Rockwell Software is Rockwell Automation’s "Retro Encabulator". Now, basically the only new principle involved is that instead of power being generated by the relative motion of conductors and fluxes, it’s produced by the modial interaction of magneto-reluctance and capacitive diractance. The origin
Chip
what refractive index
Adjah Reply
write a comprehensive note on primary colours
Harrison Reply
relationship between refractive index, angle of minimum deviation and angle of prism
Harrison
Who knows the formula for binding energy,and what each variable or notation stands for?
Agina Reply
1. A black thermocouple measures the temperature in the chamber with black walls.if the air around the thermocouple is 200 C,the walls are at 1000 C,and the heat transfer constant is 15.compute the temperature gradient
Tikiso Reply
what is the relationship between G and g
Olaiya Reply
G is the u. constant, as g stands for grav, accelerate at a discreet point
Mark
Is that all about it?
Olaiya
pls explain in details
Olaiya
G is a universal constant
Mark
g stands for the gravitational acceleration point. hope this helps you.
Mark
balloon TD is at a gravitational acceleration at a specific point
Mark
I'm sorry this doesn't take dictation very well.
Mark
Can anyone explain the Hooke's law of elasticity?
Olaiya Reply
extension of a spring is proportional to the force applied so long as the force applied does not exceed the springs capacity according to my textbook
Amber
does this help?
Amber
Yes, thanks
Olaiya
so any solid can be compressed how compressed is dependent upon how much force is applied F=deltaL
Amber
sorry, the equation is F=KdeltaL delta is the triangle symbol and L is length so the change in length is proportional to amount of Force applied I believe that is what Hookes law means. anyone catch any mistakes here please correct me :)
Amber
I think it is used only for solids and not liquids, isn't it?
Olaiya
basically as long as you dont exceed the elastic limit the object should return to it original form but if you exceed this limit the object will not return to original shape as it will break
Amber
Thanks for the explanation
Olaiya
yh, liquids don't apply here, that should be viscosity
Chiamaka
hope it helps 😅
Amber
also, an object doesnt have to break necessarily, but it will have a new form :)
Amber
Yes
Olaiya
yeah, I think it is for solids but maybe there is a variation for liquids? that I am not sure of
Amber
ok
Olaiya
good luck!
Amber
Same
Olaiya
aplease i need a help on spcific latent heat of vibrations
Bilgate
specific latent heat of vaporisation
Bilgate
how many kilometers makes a mile
Margaret Reply
about 1.6 kilometres.
Faizyab
near about 1.67 kilometers
Aakash
equal to 1.609344 kilometers.
MUHD
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Source:  OpenStax, College physics. OpenStax CNX. Jul 27, 2015 Download for free at http://legacy.cnx.org/content/col11406/1.9
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