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Diffraction Experiments

Diffraction Experiments

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Published by Arooj Mukarram
Diffraction Experiments, physics experiments, undergraduate physics
Diffraction Experiments, physics experiments, undergraduate physics

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Published by: Arooj Mukarram on Oct 08, 2011
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Diffraction is the bending or spreading of waves that encounter an object (a barrier or an opening)in their path.Any redistribution in space of the intensity of waves that results from the presence of an objectcausing variations of either the amplitude or phase of the waves is called diffraction. Diffraction isfound in all types of wave phenomenon.Diffraction pattern is the pattern produced on a screen or plate by waves which have undergonediffraction.Any instrument used to study the structure of matter by means of the diffraction of x-rays, electrons,neutrons or other waves is called diffractometer of diffraction instrument.
The term interference refers to any situation in which two or more waves overlap in space.Interference effects when many light waves combine or when light strikes on barrier that has anaperture or an edge are grouped under the heading
diffraction of light
.The appearance of diffraction patterns requires that light must travel as waves.
Diffraction patterns can be analyzed using the principle of superposition and Huygens’ Principle.
The principle of superposition states that when two or more waves overlap, the resultantdisplacement at any point and at any instant may be found by adding the instantaneousdisplacement that would be produced at that point by the individual waves if each were present
alone. Huygens’ Principle states th
at every point of a wavefront can be considered the source ofsecondary wavelets that spread out in all directions with a speed equal to the speed of propagationof the wave. The position of the wave front at any later time is the envelope of the secondary wavesat that time. To find the resultant displacement at any point, all the individual displacementsproduced by these secondary waves are combined using the superposition principle and taking intoaccount their amplitudes and relative phases.There are two types of diffraction depending upon the distances between the light source, obstacleand screen. When both the point source and screen are relatively close to the obstacle forming thediffraction pattern, the situation is described as
near-field diffraction
Fresnel diffraction
. If thesource, obstacle and screen are far enough away that all lines from the source to the obstacle canbe considered parallel and all lines from the obstacle to a point in the pattern can be consideredparallel, the phenomenon is called
far-field diffraction
Fraunhofer diffraction
.An optical device consisting of an assembly of narrow slits or grooves which produce a largenumber of beams that can interfere to produce spectra is called
diffraction grating
or simply
. Diffraction gratings are widely used to measure the spectrum of light emitted by a source.
The phenomenon associated with the interference processes which occur when electrons arescattered by atoms in crystals to form diffraction patterns is called
electron diffraction
.The appearance of diffraction pattern for electrons requires that electrons should have a wavenature.
According to De-
Broglie’s relation, the wavelength of an electron is inversely proportional to th
emagnitude of its momentum and is given by
λ =
(1)where p is the momentum,
is the wavelength and
h is the Plank’s constant.
 At typical laboratory energies, the electron De-
Broglie’s wavelength is of the order of the interatomic
spacing in common crystals. Thus a crystalline solid can serve as a three dimensional diffractiongrating for electrons. Electron diffraction pattern is used for measuring their wavelength andverifying equation (1). Alternatively, knowing the wavelength of electrons, the diffraction patternscan be used for analyzing crystal structures and measuring the interatomic distances in the crystals.The regular arrays in crystals act as plane of reflections and for a set of crystal planes spaced a
distance ‘d’ apart, constructive interference occurs when the angles of incidence and scattering
(measured from crystal planes) are equal and when
2d sin
θ = mλ
(m = 1, 2, 3,….)
 This is called Bragg
condition.For a single uniform crystal, a beam of fixed wavelength electrons must strike at a particular
diffraction angle to satisfy the Bragg’s condition. This can be done by holding the detector fixed and
rotating the crystal to observe Bragg reflection. Alternatively, beam energy can be varied to obtainthe right wavelength for unknown orientation of the crystal. Experimentally both these methods aredifficult and the problem is solved by using powder or polycrystalline sample. The diffractionprocess is then referred to as
Debye-Scherrer diffraction
. A polycrystalline material consists of alarge number of ordered regions (single crystal regions) oriented randomly with respect to eachother. A beam incident on a bulk sample will find many domains oriented at the correct Bragg anglefor the beam energy.
EXPERIMENT 1Determine the slit width of a grating by diffraction of red and green lightApparatus:
Light source, filters, diffraction grating, converging lens, screen, optical bench
A light source is mounted on the optical bench and a convex lens is placed in front of itto converge the light. Grating is placed in front of lens and a screen is fixed at the end to observethe diffraction pattern. The position of lens and grating is so adjusted that a clear pattern isobtained. Red light filter is placed in front of the light source and in diffraction pattern distance of the
first maxima ‘h’ from the central bright spot is measured. Distance between grating and slit ‘D’ is
also measured. Same process is repeated for green
light. Slit width ‘d
’ is found using the formula
θ = nλ
for n= 1where
θ = tanhD
Observations and calculations
Wavelength for red light = λ
= 6500 A°
Wavelength for green light = λ
= 5500 A°For red:Distance of screen from grating = D = 6cmPosition of first maxima with respect central bright spot = h
= 2cm
θ = tan
( h
/ D ) = 18.4°d
= λ
/ sinθ = 19642 A°
 For green:Distance of screen from grating = D = 6cmPosition of first maxima with respect central bright spot = h
= 1.8cm
θ = tan
( h
/ D ) = 16.7°d
= λ
/ sinθ = 19139 A°

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