PHY 4264L

Prism Spectrometer

Optics Lab Manual

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LAB #2 – Dispersion in the Prism Spectrometer
OBJECTIVE
To determine the index of refraction and dispersion of a prism using a spectrometer.

MATERIALS
◦ Spectrometer ◦ Prism ◦ Mercury Lamp

THEORY
The spectrometer is an instrument for analyzing the spectra of radiations. Various forms of the spectrometer are adapted to work on different parts of the electromagnetic spectrum and for different purposes. The glass-prism spectrometer is suitable for measuring ray deviations and refractive indices. Sometimes a diffraction grating is used in place of the prism for studying optical spectra. A prism refracts the

Figure 1: Basic Set Up light into a single spectrum, whereas the diffraction grating divides the available light into several spectra. Because of this, slit images formed using a prism are generally brighter than those formed using a grating. Spectral lines that are too dim to be seen with a grating can often be seen using a prism. Unfortunately, the increased brightness of the spectral lines is offset by a decreased resolution, since the prism doesn’t separate the different lines as effectively as the grating. However, the brighter lines allow a narrow slit width to be used, which partially compensates for the reduced resolution. With a prism, the angle of refraction is not directly proportional to the wavelength of the light. Therefore, to measure wavelengths using a prism, a calibration graph of the angle of deviation versus wavelength must be constructed using a light source with a known spectrum. The wavelength of unknown spectral lines can then be interpolated from the graph. Once a calibration graph is created for the prism, future wavelength determinations are valid only if they are made with the prism aligned precisely as it was when the graph was produced. To ensure that this alignment can be reproduced, all measurements are made with the prism aligned so that the light is refracted at the angle of minimum deviation. The light to be examined is rendered parallel by a collimator consisting of a tube with a slit of adjustable width at one end and a convex lens at

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Prism Spectrometer

Optics Lab Manual

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the other. The collimator has to be focused by adjusting the position of the slit until it is at the focal point of the lens. The parallel beam of light from the collimator passes through a glass prism standing on a prism-table which can be rotated, raised or lowered, and levelled. The prism deviates the component colors of the emitted light by different amounts and the spectrum so produced is examined by means of a telescope, which is mounted on a rotating arm and moves over a divided angular scale. The the can The theory of the prism spectrometer indicates that a spectrum of maximum definition is obtained when angular deviation of a light ray passing through the prism is a minimum. Under such conditions it be shown that the ray passes through the prism symmetrically. Such a ray is shown in Figure 2. angle of deviation for light traversing a prism is shown in Figure 2. For a given wavelength of light

Figure 2: Light Ray Through Prism at the Angle of Minimum Deviation traversing a given prism, there is a characteristic angle of incidence for which the angle of deviation is a minimum. This angle depends only on the index of refraction of the prism and the angle (labelled A in Figure 8) between the two sides of the prism traversed by the light. The relationship between these variables is given by the equation: sin α+δ 2 n= α sin 2 where n is the index of refraction of the prism; α is the angle between the sides of the prism traversed by the light; and δ is the angle of minimum deviation. Since n varies with wavelength (i.e., n = n(λ)), the angle of minimum deviation also varies, but it is constant for any particular wavelength. The telescope can also be locked or moved very slowly by a fine adjustment screw and the instrument is provided with a heavy base for stability. To obtain sharp spectral lines the slit width should be quite small, about 0.1-0.3 mm.

Figure 3: Spectrometer Locks

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Prism Spectrometer

Optics Lab Manual

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The amount by which the visible spectrum spreads out into its constituent colors depends on how rapidly dn the refractive index of the prism material varies with the wavelength λ of the radiation, i.e. dλ . This quantity is called the dispersion and is of prime importance in spectroscopy, since if the dispersion is small, radiation of slightly differing wavelengths cannot be resolved into separate and distinct spectral lines.

Resolving Power
The term resolving power applied to spectrum-producing devices means the ability of the instrument to form separate images of two closely adjacent spectral lines. It is defined by the equation R= λ dλ

where R is the resolving power and dλ is the smallest wavelength separation which separable with the instrument in question.

PROCEDURE
1. Make all necessary adjustments of the spectrometer as detailed in the attached appendix - Adjusting the Spectrometer. 2. Determine the refracting angle, α of the prism and use this value in subsequent calculations. To find the angle of the prism α, illuminate the slit with a light source, rotate the table until the corresponding apex of the prism faces the collimator. Lock the table wit LOCK B, and rotate the telescope to find the reflected image of the slit in each face of the prism in turn. The angle between these two telescope positions is twice the angle α. It is left to you to justify this relation and include the justification in your lab notebook.

Figure 4: Measuring the Prism Angle

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Prism Spectrometer

Optics Lab Manual

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3. Now place the mercury lamp in front of the slit and put the prism on the spectrometer table, positioned as in Figure 1. Turn the telescope and the prism until the mercury line spectrum comes into view. Now set the prism in the position of minimum deviation. To do this, unlock LOCK B and rotate the prism table slowly, simultaneously moving the telescope to keep the spectrum in view. At a certain position of the prism the spectrum will stop moving and then start to move in the reverse direction. This is the position for minimum deviation. Locate this position accurately, and lock the table. 4. By means of the fine adjustment screw of the telescope, find the position and hence the angle of deviation δ for each of the lines. Determine the angles of minimum deviation for each of the following lines in the mercury spectrum. To measure the angle of minimum deviation: (a.) Attach the prism in place as shown in Figure ??. (b.) Place the light source a few centimeters behind the slit of the collimator. (It may be helpful to partially darken the room, but when using the prism this is often not necessary.) (c.) With the prism, it is generally possible to see the refracted light with the naked eye. Locate the general direction to which the light is refracted, then align the telescope and spectrometer table base so the slit image can be viewed through the telescope. (d.) While looking through the telescope, rotate the spectrometer table slightly back and forth. Notice that the angle of refraction for the spectral line under observation changes. Rotate the spectrometer table until this angle is a minimum, then rotate the telescope to align the vertical cross-hair with the fixed edge of the slit image. Use the fine adjust knobs to make these adjustments as precisely as possible, then measure the telescope angle using the vernier scale. (e.) Without changing the rotation of the spectrometer table, remove the prism and rotate the telescope to align the cross-hair with the fixed edge of the undiffracted beam. Measure the angle on the vernier scale. The difference between this angle and that recorded for the diffracted spectral line in step 5, is the angle of minimum deviation. Notice that generally, since the determination of the angle of minimum deviation for each spectral line requires rotational adjustments of the spectrometer table, the angle of the undeflected beam must be remeasured for each line. Color Wavelength Intensity R1 690.716 nm (Faint) R2 623.437 nm (Weak) Y1 576.959 nm (Strong) Y2 579.065 nm (Strong) G 546.074 nm (Very Strong) BG 491.604 nm (Weak) B 435.835 nm (Very Strong) V1 407.781 nm (Weak) V2 404.656 nm (Strong) 5. Plot a graph of δ against the wavelength λ. The curve so obtained is called a calibration curve. 6. Determine the values of the index of refraction of the prism for each of the above lines by the minimum deviation formula. Plot n versus λ using this data. This plot is called a dispersion curve for the prism. 7. Do a least squares fit of the data to the Cauchy formula n=A+ B λ2

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Prism Spectrometer

Optics Lab Manual

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and obtain the Cauchy constants, A and B . 8. Using the values of A and B determined from your fit calculate the index of refraction using the Cauchy formula and compare to your actual measured values. Are the values predicted by the Cauchy formula within the estimated error of the measured values? 9. Determine the resolving power of the prism with the definition R= λ , dλ
λ2 +λ1 2 .

using the two mercury yellow lines. Take dλ = λ2 − λ1 and λ =

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