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Verification of Snell’s Law AS Unit 2

Apparatus
4 large pins, cork mat, rectangular glass block, paper, pencil, protractor

Diagram

i
1
2

r
3
4

Method
• Mark the outline of the glass block in the middle of a blank piece of paper.
• Place two pins at an angle towards one side of the glass block (pins 1 and 2).
• Looking from the other side of the glass block, place two more pins (3 and 4) so that
they line up with the images of pins 1 and 2 as seen through the glass block.
• Remove the glass block and draw lines that pass through pins 1 and 2 up to the glass
block. Do the same with pins 3 and 4. Draw a line joining these, corresponding to the ray
travelling through the glass box.
• At the point where the ray of light enters the glass block construct a normal and
measure the angle of incidence (i) and angle of refraction (r) as shown. Tabulate these
values along with sin(i) and sin(r)
• Repeat this process for a wide range of angles
• Plot a graph of sin(i) against sin(r) and find the gradient of the line of best fit.
• The gradient should be equal to the refractive index of air to glass:
sin ݅
௔ ݊௚ =
sin ‫ݎ‬

Questions
1. Why should the locating pins on either side of the glass block be placed as far
apart from each as possible?

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Verification of Snell’s Law AS Unit 2
2. Describe another method that could be used to obtain the sin of an angle

3. Which of your results is likely to give the largest error? Explain your answer

4. From your calculated value of the refractive index of air into glass, calculate the
refractive index of glass into air.

5. How could you use your experiment to verify this calculated value?

6. The book value for the refractive index of air into glass is 1.42. Calculate the percentage
error in your value.

7. In fact different glass has differing values of refractive index. Explain how this fact could
be used in the investigation of a car crash, where one of the cars had left the scene of the
accident.

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