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Dispersion And Total Internal Reflection.

Gerard Kalashnikoff

10.4

Mrs. Thorlton

Week Beginning Monday 22 February 2012

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Aim: To disperse light using a triangular prism. To find the angle of total internal
reflection inside of a triangular prism and inside of a semi-circular prism.

Hypothesis 1: It is predicted that if the light hits the prism at a certain angle the
light will disperse in the full spectrum of colour and point in different directs due to
differences in wavelength.

Hypothesis 2: If light is passed through different prisms of a same material the the
critical angle will be the same because the substance is the same.

Equipment:

• Light box
• Semi-circular prism
• Triangular prism
• Power-box
• Safety Goggles
• Protractor

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Method 1:

1. The light box was plugged into the power-box and was started.
2. A single ray of light was directed the the triangular prism.
3. The prism was turned until the full spectrum of colours was visible
4. The results were traced onto paper and the angles of the red and violet light
were recorded.

Method 2:

1. The light box was plugged into the power-box and was started.
2. A single ray of light was directed the the semi-circular prism.
3. The prism was turned until the critical angle was found.
4. The results were traced onto paper and the critical angle was recorded.
5. Steps 1-4 were re-done with a triangular prism.

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Task 1:

C o lo u r A n g le O f D is p e rs io n
R e d 3 9 D e g re e s
V io le t 4 3 D e g re e s

Task 2:

S h a p e C rit ic a l A n g le
S e m i-c irc4 9le D e g re e s
T ria n g le 4 9 D e g re e s

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Discussion:

It was found that the angle of of dispersion for the red wavelength was 39 degrees,
while the angle of dispersion for the violet wavelength was 43 degrees. Dispersion
occurs because when light hits a more dense medium it is bend, and the light is
slowed down to different speeds, which then shows the full spectrum of colours.

All substances have a critical degree, for example, the critical angle for a perspex
triangular prism is 49 degrees, while the critical angle of water is 61 degrees. There is
also a formula for determining the critical angle which is the following:

Let n1 be the refractive index of lighter medium


n2 be the refractive index of denser medium
Q1 be the angle at which the refracted ray goes
Q2 be the angle at which the incident ray falls

Then by snell's law


n1SinQ1 = n2SinQ2

Now Qc critical angle is defined as the angle at which the refracted ray is
perpendicular to the normal. This means
Q1 = 90 for Q2 = Qc
Substituting
n1Sin90 = n2SinQc
SinQc = n1/n2 since sin90 = 1
which leaves
Qc = Sin^-1(n1/n2)

Wavelengths also played a major part in the experiment. As the white light (the whole
spectrum of colours) hit the more dense medium

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Conclusion:

It was confirmed that if the light hits the prism at a certain angle the light will
disperse in the full spectrum of colour and point in different directs due to differences
in wavelength. And if light is passed through different prisms of a same material the
the critical angle will be the same because the substance is the same. In the end, both
hypotheses where proved and the experiment was a success.