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Notes on Interference and Diffraction

Dr. Manamohan Prusty


July 9, 2016

Light + Light does not always give light,


but may in certain circumstances give darkness - Max Born

Module I - Syllabus

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Interference : Introduction, Interference in thin films due to reflected
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light, interference in wedge shaped film, Newtons rings, Michelsons interfer-

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ometer, Applications : To find the diameter of a wire, to find the wavelength


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of light and refractive index of liquids and thin transparent sheets, flatness of
surface, thickness of thinfilm coatings, antireflection coatings.
Module I - Part II - Diffraction: Introduction, Fraunhoffer diffraction
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at single slit, diffraction due to N-slits (diffraction grating), highest possible


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orders, determination of wavelength of light with a plane transmission grating,


resolving power of a grating, dispersive power of a grating.
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Contents
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Syllabus 1

1 Introduction 7
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1.1 Light waves : . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 7


1.2 Characteristics of a waves : . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 7
1.3 Principle of superposition . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 8
1.3.1 Phase difference . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 9
1.3.2 Path difference . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 9

2 Interference 10
2.1 Coherence . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 11
2.2 Constructive and Destructive Interference . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 12
CONTENTS 2

3 Youngs Double Slit Experiment 13


3.1 Nature of Interference pattern . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 15
3.2 Determination of path difference . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 15
3.3 Determination of fringe width . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 16

4 Conditions for sustained Interference 16

5 Interference in parallel thin films 16


5.1 The Stokes treatment of reflection and refraction . . . . . . . . . . . 18
5.2 Mathematical Analysis of the thin film interference pattern . . . . . 19
5.3 Conditions for maxima and minima . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 21
5.4 Important Points on thin film interference . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 21

6 Interference from a wedge shaped film 22


6.1 Mathematical analysis for a wedge shaped film . . . . . . . . . . . . 22
6.2 Conditions for dark and bright fringes . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 24
6.3 Determination of fringe width or wedge angle . . . . . . . . . . . . 24

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6.4 Determination of thickness of the spacer . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 25

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6.5 Number of dark fringes for an air wedge . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 25
6.6 Salient features of the wedge shaped interference pattern . . . . . . 26
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7 Newtons Rings 26
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7.1 Experimental Arrangement . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 26


7.2 Formation of Rings . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 27
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7.3 Mathematical Interpretation for the formation of Newtons rings . . 28


7.3.1 Condition for bright and dark fringes . . . . . . . . . . . . . 28
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7.4 Determination of wavelength or the radius of curvature of a lens . . 29


7.5 Determination of refractive index of a liquid by Newtons rings . . . 30
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8 Michelson Interferometer 31
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8.1 Formation of interference fringes in Michelson Interferometer . . . . 32


8.1.1 Special Cases of d: . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 32
8.2 Applications of Michelsons interferometer . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 33
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8.2.1 Determination of wavelength of a monochromatic light wave 33


8.2.2 Measurement of resolution of closely spaced spectral lines . . 33
8.2.3 Determination of thickness of a thin transparent sheet . . . 34

9 Applications of Interference 35
9.1 Testing the flatness of a surface . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 35
9.2 Testing of a lens surface . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 35
9.3 Thickness of a Thin film coating . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 36
9.4 Anti-reflection (AR) coating . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 36
9.4.1 Phase condition and minimum thickness of the AR coating . 38

Classnotes by Dr. Manamohan Prusty


CONTENTS 3

9.4.2 Amplitude condition and the reflactive index of the AR coating 38

10 Introduction to Diffraction 40
10.1 Dependence of diffraction on wavelength . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 40
10.2 Fresnels explanation of diffraction . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 41
10.3 Types of diffraction . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 42
10.3.1 Fresnel diffraction . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 42
10.3.2 Fraunhoffer diffraction . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 43

11 Resultant of multiple simple harmonic motions 44

12 Fraunhoffer diffraction from a single slit 46


12.1 Arrangement . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 46
12.2 Theory . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 46
12.3 Qualitative Analysis . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 47
12.3.1 Formation of Central Maxima . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 47

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12.3.2 Formation of Minima . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 47
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12.3.3 Formation of secondary Maxima . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 47

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12.4 Intensity distribution - Quantitative . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 48
12.4.1 Principal Maxima . . . . . . . . . . .
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12.4.2 Position of minimum intensity . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 50


12.4.3 Positions of secondary maxima . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 50
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12.4.4 Width of the principal maxima . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 52


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13 Fraunhoffer diffraction from a double slit 53


13.1 Arrangement . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
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. . . . . . . . . . . . 53
13.2 Diffraction maxima and minima . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 53
13.3 Interference maxima and minima . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 54
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13.4 Intensity distribution . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 54


13.4.1 Diffraction contribution . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 56
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13.4.2 Interference contribution . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 56


13.4.3 Missing orders (Absent spectras) in the resultant pattern . . 57
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14 Difference between Interference and Diffraction 58

15 Diffraction due to N-slits 58


15.1 Intensity distribution . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 59
15.1.1 Principal Maxima . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 60
15.1.2 Minima and Secondary maxima . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 61
15.1.3 Missing orders . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 62
15.1.4 Highest possible order . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 62
15.1.5 Width of the Principal Maxima . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 62
15.2 Diffraction grating . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 63

Classnotes by Dr. Manamohan Prusty


CONTENTS 4

15.2.1 The Grating spectrum . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 64


15.2.2 Dtermination of wavelength . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 65
15.2.3 Properties of Grating spectra . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 65
15.2.4 Dispersive power of a grating . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 66
15.3 Resolving Power . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 66
15.3.1 Resolving power of a grating . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 67

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Classnotes by Dr. Manamohan Prusty


LIST OF FIGURES 5

List of Figures
1 Illustration of different characteristics of waves. . . . . . . . . . . . 7
2 Superposition of two waves y1 = 2 sin(kx wt) and y2 = 3 sin(kx
wt + /3) giving rise to the resultant wave y = y1 + y2 . . . . . . . . 9
3 Illustration of different types of interference fringes viz. Straight
bands (left), circular rings (center) and other complex types (right). 13
4 Youngs double slit experiment, (left) experimental set up and (right)
schematic diagram. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 13
5 Variation of intensity as a function of i.e., the interference fringe
pattern for Youngs double slit experiment. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 14
6 Multiple reflections inside a thin film. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 17
7 Illustration of Stokes law. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 18
8 Interference from a parallel thin film. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 20
9 Interference from a wedge shaped film. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 22
10 Calculation of fringe width and the height of the spacer for the

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wedge shaped film. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 24

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11 Experimental set up for formation of Newtons rings. . . . . . . . . 27
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12 Schematic diagram for formation of Newtons rings. . . . . . . . . . 28


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13 Variation of the square of the diameter with respect to the number


of fringes for a Newtons ring experiment. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 30
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14 The Michelson Interferometer. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 31
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15 Interference pattern for different type of flat surfaces (a) Concave


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surface, (b) Perfectly flat surface and (c) Convex surface. . . . . . . 35


16 Inspection of lenses using Newtons rings (a) Circular ring pattern
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indicating high quality grinding (b) Distorted ring pattern indicat-


ing irregularities on the lens surface. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 35
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17 (a)Setup for the determination of the thickness of a thin film coat-


ing. (b) Nature of interference fringes formed using the setup. . . . 36
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18 Reflection at the interface of two media. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 37


19 Dependence of the diffraction phenomenon on wavelength and the
size of the obstacle. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 41
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20 Illustration of Fresnels explanation on diffraction phenomena. . . . 41


21 Conditions for (a) Fresnel diffraction and (b) Fraunhoffer diffraction. 43
22 Resultant of multiple SHMs. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 44
23 Schematic arrangement for Fraunhoffer diffraction from a single slit. 46
24 Conditions for (a) first order minimum and (b) first order maximum
in Fraunhoffer single slit diffraction pattern . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 48
25 (a) Variation of intensity in single slit diffraction pattern as a func-
tion of . (b) Plots of y = and y = tan which determines the
positions of secondary maximas in single slit diffraction pattern. . . 51

Classnotes by Dr. Manamohan Prusty


LIST OF FIGURES 6

26 Determination of width of the central maxima for single slit diffrac-


tion pattern. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 52
27 Arrangement for Fraunhoffer diffraction from a double slit. . . . . . 53
28 Vector addition of two vectors having amplitudes R1 , R2 and a phase
difference between them. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 55
29 (a) Intensity distribution of only the single slit diffraction pattern,
(b) Intensity distribution of only the double slit interference pattern
and (c) Combined effect of interference and diffraction providing
the intensity distribution of the Fraunhoffer double slit diffraction
pattern. The envelope of the double slit diffraction pattern (red) is
the single slit diffraction pattern. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 56
30 Fraunhoffer diffraction of a plane wave incident normally on a mul-
tiple slit. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 59
31 (b) Schematic representation of Rayleighs criterion for the resolving
power of a grating. Note the separation of maxima in (a) and close
overlapping of the spectrum in (c). . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 67

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Classnotes by Dr. Manamohan Prusty


1 Introduction 7

1 Introduction
In 1678 Huygens (1629-1695) proposed wave theory of light. According to this
theory, light energy is transferred from one point to another point in the form
of waves. The first experimental evidence, of this theory, came in 1801 from
the interference experiments conducted by Thomas Young. Using the principle of
superposition and Huygens wave theory, he was able to explain interference effects
observed in various instances such as double slit experiment, colors in soap films,
Newtons rings etc.

1.1 Light waves :


From Maxwells theory, a light wave is a harmonic electromagnetic wave consisting
of periodically varying transverse electric and magnetic fields oscillating at right
angles to each other and also to the direction of propagation of the wave. The
~ and the magnetic
electric field in the wave is defined by the electric field vector E,

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~ The electric field vector E ~ and the
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field by the vector of magnetic induction B.
~
magnetic field vector B are of equal importance and are related to each other.

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Therefore, a light wave is often represented by the electric field vector E~ only.

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1.2 Characteristics of a waves :


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A wave is characterized by the following parameters :


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Displacement y :- The distance of any point in the wave from its mean
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position at any given instant of time is called displacement, It is denoted by


symbol y.
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Amplitude A :- The maximum displacement in the wave from the mean


position is called the amplitude of the wave. It is denoted by symbol A.
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Wavelength
Crest
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Amplitude

Trough
Undisturbed state
Direction of wave motion

Figure 1: Illustration of different characteristics of waves.

Classnotes by Dr. Manamohan Prusty


1.3 Principle of superposition 8

Time period T :- The time required to complete one cycle of vibration start-
ing from any displacement of the wave is called the Time period of the
wave. It is denoted by symbol T .

Wavelength :- The distance travelled by the wave in one time period i.e., in
T seconds is called the wavelength of the wave. It is denoted by symbol .
Sometimes the wavelength is represented by the wave number k = 2/.

Frequency f :- The number of cycle of vibrations in one second is called


the frequency of the wave. It is denoted by the symbol f . The angular
frequency w = 2f . From the definition of time period, the time required
to complete one vibration is T seconds. Thus, the number of vibrations per
unit time is
1 2
f = w= . (1)
T T
Velocity v :- The distance travelled by the wave in one second of time is

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called the velocity of the wave. We know that wavelength is the distance
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travelled by a wave in a time period of T seconds. Therefore velocity of the

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wave
2
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Wavelength w
v= = = T = . (2)
Time period T 2 k
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Phase angle :- The magnitude and direction of the displacement of the wave
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changes from point to point on the wave. The quantity which represents this
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state of the displacement of the wave is called the phase of the wave. It is
denoted by symbol . It may be expressed in terms of degrees or radians.
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Intensity I :- The energy carried by a wave per unit time through a unit area
perpendicular to its direction of propagation is known as the intensity of the
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wave. It is denoted by symbol I. It is a proven fact that the intensity of


a wave is directly proportional to the square of the amplitude of the wave.
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Thus
I |A|2 , (3)
where A is the amplitude of the wave. Some of these properties of the waves
are demonstrated in figure 1.

1.3 Principle of superposition


The principle of superposition states that, When two or more waves overlap at
any point in space at any instant of time, the resultant displacement is equal to
the algebraic sum of the instantaneous displacements of all the waves at that point
alone.

Classnotes by Dr. Manamohan Prusty


1.3 Principle of superposition 9

y = y1 + y2
y2 y1

Figure 2: Superposition of two waves y1 = 2 sin(kx wt) and y2 = 3 sin(kx


wt + /3) giving rise to the resultant wave y = y1 + y2 .

To understand this, let us consider two waves at any point in space at any
instant of time, whose displacements are y1 and y2 and they are in same direction.
According to principle of superposition, when these two waves overlap, the instan-

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taneous displacement of the resultant wave is y = y1 + y2 . This is illustrated in

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figure 2. As can be seen from the figure 2, the resultant wave not only depends on
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the value of the amplitudes of the individual waves but also the difference between
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the phases of the two waves (which is also called the phase difference between the
waves at that point in space).
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1.3.1 Phase difference


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Phase difference is a measure of how much phase angle one wave has compared to
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the phase angle of the other wave at any point in the space. Thus when two waves
are passing through a point in space, the phase difference between the two waves
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is an indication of how much the two waves are out of phase. In figure 2, the two
waves y1 and y2 have a phase difference of = /3.
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1.3.2 Path difference


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When a wave travels a distance equal to its wavelength , it covers one cycle of
vibration. Thus the phase change is 2. This is equivalent to say that if two waves
having wavelength has a phase difference of 2, then the path difference between
the two waves is . Using these we can write the relation between path difference
corresponding to phase difference as

= . (4)
2

Classnotes by Dr. Manamohan Prusty


2 Interference 10

2 Interference
From figure 2, we can observe that when two waves superpose together their re-
sultant amplitude differs from the individual amplitudes. As the intensity of the
wave is directly proportional to the square of the amplitude; superposition leads
to modification of light intensity. This is an illustration of interference. Thus the
definition of interference can be written as :
The redistribution of light intensity due to superposition of two or more light
waves is called Interference of light.

Explanation :
When two or more waves superpose, then the resultant amplitude in the region of
superposition is different than the individual waves. Thus, the resultant intensity
will be higher or lower than the individual intensities i.e., positions of maximum
and minimum intensities are different from the individual waves. This modification
of the intensity is called interference. This can be explained using the principle

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of superposition.

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In order to understand this, let us consider two waves y1 and y2 given by
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y1 = y A1 sin(k1 x w1 t),
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(5)
y2 = y A2 sin(k2 x w2 t + ), (6)
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where A1 and A2 are the amplitudes of the waves y1 and y2 respectively and y
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denotes the direction of the displacement vector. In this equations is a constant


phase factor. When these two waves superpose together at position (x, t) in space
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and time; the amplitude of the resultant wave is

y = y1 + y2 ,
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= y [A1 sin(k1 x w1 t) + A2 sin(k2 x w2 t + )] ,


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= y [A1 sin(k1 x w1 t) + A2 sin(k1 x w1 t + 4kx 4wt + )] , (7)

where, 4k = k2 k1 and 4w = w2 w1 . Let us assume the phase difference


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between the waves y1 and y2 to be a function of position x and time t and is given
by
= f (x, t) = (k2 x w2 t + ) (k1 x w1 t) = 4kx 4wt + . (8)
Then the resultant displacement

y = y [A1 sin(k1 x w1 t) + A2 sin(k1 x w1 t + )] ,


= y [A1 sin(k1 x w1 t) + A2 {sin(k1 x w1 t) cos + cos(k1 x w1 t) sin }]
= y [{A1 + A2 cos } sin(k1 x w1 t) + {A2 sin } cos(k1 x w1 t)]
= y [AR cos sin(k1 x w1 t) + AR sin cos(k1 x w1 t)]
= y AR sin(k1 x w1 t + ), (9)

Classnotes by Dr. Manamohan Prusty


2.1 Coherence 11

where, we have assumed that


AR cos = A1 + A2 cos
and AR sin = A2 sin (10)
AR being the amplitude of the resultant wave y and its phase difference with
respect to wave y1 . Squaring and adding both sides of the two equations (10), we
determine the square of the amplitude of the resultant wave
A2R = (A1 + A2 cos )2 + (A2 sin )2
q
2 2
= A1 + A2 + 2 A21 A22 cos . (11)

In terms of the intensities we can write


p
IR = I1 + I2 + 2 I1 I2 cos , (12)
where IR , I1 and I2 are the intensities of resultant wave y, the individual waves y1

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and y2 respectively. Also from equations (10) we can determine the phase angle
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of the resultant wave as

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A2 sin
tan = . (13)
A1 + A2 cos
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Now since = 4kx 4wt + , the resultant intensity IR , as seen from equation
(12), at a particular position in space changes with time unless 4w = w2 w1 = 0.
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Since the velocity of light is a constant in free space, then for a particular frequency
i.e., w2 = w1 , it ensures that 4k = k2 k1 = 0. From these, we conclude that for
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sustained interference (i.e., no variation of resultant intensity at a particular point


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in space), the following conditions should be satisfied :-


1. The waves superposing together must have same frequency,
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2. Their wavelengths must be same,


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and
3. the two waves maintain a constant phase difference.
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The waves which satisfy the above three conditions are called as coherent waves.

2.1 Coherence
Definition : If two (or more) waves maintain a constant phase difference over a long
distance and time, then the waves are said to be coherent waves. This constant
phase difference may be 0 or 2 or any value in between 0 and 2. The waves
of same frequency and wavelength may differ in amplitude, but they maintain a
constant phase relationship, hence they are coherent waves.
If the two waves are of different frequencies then they can never maintain a
constant phase difference. Such waves are said to be incoherent waves.

Classnotes by Dr. Manamohan Prusty


2.2 Constructive and Destructive Interference 12

2.2 Constructive and Destructive Interference


Let us assume that the waves interfering with each other are coherent waves, then
w1 = w2 and 1 = 2 giving a constant phase difference = . Substituting this
into equation (11), we have

A2R = A21 + A22 + 2A1 A2 cos . (14)

The maximum value of cos = 1 which occurs for = 2 n , where n = 0, 1, 2, . . ..


Substituting cos = 1, we have

A2R = A21 + A22 + 2A1 A2 = (A1 + A2 )2


AR = A1 + A2 . (15)

Thus, if the phase difference between the two interfering waves is an even multiple
of , then the amplitude of the resultant wave is the sum of the amplitudes of the
individual waves. This is called constructive interference. In terms of intensity

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since IR = I1 + I2 + 2 I1 I2 , we say that the resultant intensity, for constructive
interference, is greater than the sum of the individual intensities.

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On the other side, the minimum value of cos = 1 which occurs for =
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(2 n + 1) , where n = 0, 1, 2, . . .. Upon substitution of cos = 1, we get

A2R = A21 + A22 2A1 A2 = (A1 A2 )2


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AR = A1 A2 . (16)
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It shows that if the phase difference between the two interfering waves is an odd
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multiple of , then the amplitude of the resultant wave is the difference between
the amplitudes of the individual waves.This is called destructive interference. In
terms of intensity since IR = I1 + I2 2 I1 I2 , we say that the resultant intensity,
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for destructive interference, is always less than the sum of the individual intensities.
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In particular if the amplitudes of the interfering waves are same i.e., A1 =


A2 = A, then the resultant amplitude of the constructive interference is AR =
A1 + A2 = 2A and the resultant amplitude of the destructive interference is AR =
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A1 A2 = 0. As such a stationary bright band of light is formed at the points


of constructive interference and a stationary dark band appears at the points of
destructive interference.
The average intensities between the constructive and destructive interference
regions can be calculated as
Imax + Imin 1 p p 
Iav = = I1 + I2 + 2 I1 I2 + I1 + I2 2 I1 I2 = I1 + I2 . (17)
2 2
It shows that the average intensity in case of interference fringes is the sum of
the intensities of the individual waves. Furthermore, when two coherent waves
with same amplitude interfere, it results in regions of constructive and destructive

Classnotes by Dr. Manamohan Prusty


3 Youngs Double Slit Experiment 13

Figure 3: Illustration of different types of interference fringes viz. Straight bands


(left), circular rings (center) and other complex types (right).

interference whose effect is brightness in certain regions and darkness at some


other areas. The perfect dark areas in between the bright regions provides a good
contrast. The dark and bright regions might appear in the form of straight lines
or circular fringes or any complex shape (See figure 3).

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3 Youngs Double Slit Experiment
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In 1801, Young first demonstrated the phenomenon of interference experimentally.


His setup consisting of a monochromatic light source S emitting light waves. These
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light waves are made to pass through two slits S1 and S2 placed at an equal
distance from S (For an illustration see figure 4). The wavelets from the source
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S on entering the slits S1 and S2 , behave as if like they are two sources. These
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generated waves moving away from their sources will superimpose on each other
and provide dark and bright fringes. Dark fringes are the points where crests
an
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Figure 4: Youngs double slit experiment, (left) experimental set up and (right)
schematic diagram.

Classnotes by Dr. Manamohan Prusty


3 Youngs Double Slit Experiment 14

Intensity
5 4 3 2 0 2 3 4 5

Figure 5: Variation of intensity as a function of i.e., the interference fringe


pattern for Youngs double slit experiment.

fall on troughs (destructive interference) and bright fringes are the points where
crests fall on crests or troughs fall on troughs (constructive interference). Thus
on the screen alternate dark and bright regions, called as interference fringes are
observed.

ty
Let us calculate the resultant intensity of light at a point P on the screen GG0
es
which is at a distance x from the centre point C. Let A be the amplitude of the

us
ot
waves generates from sources S1 and S2 ; and the phase difference between the

Pr
two waves reaching at point P at any instant of time is . If y1 and y2 are the
sN

displacements af the two waves superposing at P , then


an
as

y1 = A sin wt
oh

y2 = A sin(wt + ). (18)
Cl

am

Now as per the principle of superposition the displacement of the resultant wave
at P is
y = y1 + y2 = AR sin(wt + ). (19)
an

where
.M


A2R = A2 + A2 + 2A2 cos = 2 A2 (1 + cos ) = 4A2 cos2 (20)
2
Dr

sin 2 sin 2 cos 2


and tan = =
= tan . (21)
1 + cos 2 cos2 2 2

For details of this derivation look for the equations (11) and (13). In the above
equation we have used 1 + cos = 2 cos2 (/2) to obtain the final expression of the
amplitude. As the intensity of individual waves I0 A2 , we can write down the
resultant intensity

IR = 4 I0 cos2 . (22)
2
The nature of this interference intensity is illustrated in figure 5.

Classnotes by Dr. Manamohan Prusty


3.1 Nature of Interference pattern 15

3.1 Nature of Interference pattern


Case I : Condition for maximum intensity or bright fringes -
The resultant intensity is maximum if cos2 2 = 1 which occurs if the phase differ-
ence = 0, 2, 4, . . . or in general when = 2 n where (n = 0, 1, 2, 3, . . .).

This occurs when the path difference = S2 P S1 P = 2 = n. At this point
the intensity becomes maximum Imax = 4 I0 which means the resultant intensity
is more than the sum of individual intensities 2 I0 ). Hence it is called constructive
interference which results in bright fringes.
Case II : Condition for minimum intensity or dark fringes -
The resultant intensity is minimum if cos2 2 = 0 which occurs if the phase dif-
ference = , 3, 5, . . . or in general when = (2 n + 1) where (n =

0, 1, 2, 3, . . .). This occurs when the path difference = S2 P S1 P = 2 =
(2n + 1)/2. At this point the intensity becomes minimum Imin = 0 which means
the resultant intensity is less than the sum of individual intensities (2 I0 ). Hence
it is called destructive interference which results in dark fringes.

ty
es

us
3.2 Determination of path difference
ot

Pr
From the schematic diagram of Youngs double slit experiment we have
sN

s  2 s  2
d d
an
as

= S2 P S1 P = 2
D + x+ D + x2
2 2
oh
Cl

(
 2 1/2
) (  2 )1/2
x + d/2 x d/2
= D 1+ 1+
am


D D
"(  2 ) (  2 )#
1 x + d/2 1 x d/2
an

D 1+ 1+
2 D 2 D
.M

(1/2) 4 x (d/2) xd
= D 2
= = d sin , (23)
D D
Dr

where sin = Dx , being the angle at which the interference fringe occurs with
respect to the centre of the sources S1 and S2 . Thus, if d sin = n then we
obtain constructive interference and if d sin = (2n + 1)/2 we obtain destructive
interference.

Classnotes by Dr. Manamohan Prusty


3.3 Determination of fringe width 16

3.3 Determination of fringe width


Let us consider two positions on the screen xn and xn+1 for which we have nth and
(n + 1)th order maxima. Then from the condition of maxima, we have
xn d
= n ,
D
xn+1 d
and = (n + 1) (24)
D
Subtracting these two equations we get, for fringe width
D D
= xn+1 xn = [(n + 1) n] = . (25)
d d
This relation remains independent of the nature of fringes. Further if d is very
large i.e., the two sources interfering with each other is at a large distance from
each other then the fringe width is very small and we cannot have a very good

ty
es
contrast of the interference fringes.

us
ot

4 Conditions for sustained Interference


Pr
sN

From the above analysis we can safely say that if the interfering waves satisfy the
an
as

following condition, then we will have a sustained interference


oh
Cl

1. The interfering waves should have same wavelength and same frequency.
am

2. The interfering waves maintain a constant phase difference among each other.

3. For a good contrast of the interference fringes, the amplitude of the waves
an

should be same and the interfering sources should be very close to each other.
.M

4. The direction of polarisation of the interfering waves should also be same.


Dr

5 Interference in parallel thin films


A film of thickness in the range of 0.5 m to 10 m may be considered as a thin
film. It can be a thin sheet of transparent material such as glass, mica, a soap
bubble or an air film enclosed between two transparent plates.
When a monochromatic light is incident on a thin film, a small part of it gets
reflected from the top surface and a major part is transmitted into the film. Again
a small part of the transmitted component is reflected back into the film by the
bottom surface and the rest is transmitted from the lower surface of the film. Thus
a small portion of the light gets reflected partially several times in succession within
the film. See figure 6 for an illustration of the reflected and transmitted beams. At

Classnotes by Dr. Manamohan Prusty


5 Interference in parallel thin films 17

Inc
ide I0 0 I0 03 I0 05 I0
nt rI 0 0
tt
r
ttr
0
ttr
0
Ra
y

0
0

tr 03I

tr 05I
tr I 0

tr I 0

tr I 0
tr 0I
tI 0
Thin Film

02

04

06
tt 0 tt 0 tt 0 tt 0
I0 r 02 r 04 r 06
I0 I0 I0

Figure 6: Multiple reflections inside a thin film.

each reflection the intensity and hence the amplitude of the light wave is divided
into a reflected component and a refracted component. These components travel

ty
es
along different paths and subsequently overlap to produce interference fringes.

us
Therefore, the interference from thin films is called interference due to division
ot

of amplitude. Newton and Robert Hooke first observed the thin film interference
Pr
sN

pattern but Thomas Young gave the correct explanation of the phenomena.
Lets assume that r is the reflectance, which is a measure of the proportion of
an
light energy getting reflected and t is the transmittance of the thin film medium.
as

Due to conservation of energy r + t = 1. Then the Intensity of light getting


oh
Cl

reflected, when a light of intensity I0 is incident into the medium is rI0 . Assuming
no absorption in the medium the amount of light energy transmitted into the
am

thin film is tI0 = (1 r)I0 . Again if we assume r0 and t0 as the reflectance and
transmittance inside the thin film then the intensity of light getting transmitted
an

from the lower surface is tt0 I0 while the rest amount gets reflected into the medium
whose intensity is tr0 I0 = t(1t0 )I0 . In this way we can calculate that the intensity
.M

of light rays that gets reflected are tt0 r0 I0 , tt0 r03 I0 , tt0 r05 I0 , . . . and the intensity of
light rays that gets transmitted are ttI0 , tt0 r02 I0 , tt0 r04 I0 , . . . etc. Adding all the
intensities of the reflected beams provides the total intensity of the reflected light
Dr

which is

IR = rI0 + tt0 r0 I0 + tt0 r03 I0 + tt0 r05 I0 + . . .


= I0 [r + tt0 r0 (1 + r02 + r04 + . . .)]
 
0 0 1
= I0 r + tt r 02
( r0 < 1)
1r
0
 
0 (1 r)(1 r )
= I0 r + r ( t = 1 r & t0 = 1 r0 )
1 r02
r + r0
= I0 = I0 R , (26)
1 + r0

Classnotes by Dr. Manamohan Prusty


5.1 The Stokes treatment of reflection and refraction 18

r + r0
where R = is the total reflectance of the medium. Similarly the total
1 + r0
intensity of the transmitted lights is

IT = tt0 I0 + tt0 r02 I0 + tt0 r04 I0 + . . .


= I0 [tt0 (1 + r02 + r04 + . . .)]
 
0 1
= I0 tt ( r0 < 1)
1 r02
(1 r)(1 r0 )
 
= I0 ( t = 1 r & t0 = 1 r0 )
1 r02
1r
= I0 = I0 T , (27)
1 + r0
1r
where T = is the total transmittance of the medium. We can observe that
1 + r0
R + T = 1 i.e., if there is no absorption inside the medium then the amount of

ty
reflected light is complementary to the amount of the transmitted light.
es

us
ot

5.1 The Stokes treatment of reflection and refraction


Pr
sN

Consider a light ray incident on an interface of two media, medium 1 of refractive


index 1 and medium 2 of refractive index 2 , as shown in figure 7(a). If the
an
as

amplitude of the incident ray is A, the amplitudes of the reflected and refracted
oh
Cl

beam would be A r and A t respectively. Here r and t are the reflection and
transmission coefficients of the medium 1 respectively.
am
an
.M
Dr

Figure 7: Illustration of Stokes law.

According to the principle of optically reversibility, in the absence of any ab-


sorption, a light ray that is reflected or refracted will retrace its original path if
its direction is reversed. In Figure 7(b), the rays are reversed. We consider a ray
of amplitude A t incident on medium 2 and a ray of amplitude A r incident on
medium 1. The ray of amplitude A t will give rise to a reflected ray of amplitude

Classnotes by Dr. Manamohan Prusty


5.2 Mathematical Analysis of the thin film interference pattern 19

A t r0 and a transmitted ray of amplitude A t t0 where r0 and t0 are the amplitude


reflection and transmission coefficients when a ray is incident from medium 2 to
medium 1. Similarly the ray of amplitude A r will give rise to rays of amplitudes
A r2 and A r t0 .
According to the principle of reversibility, the two rays of amplitudes A r2 and
A t t0 must combine to give the incident ray i.e.,
A r2 + A t t0 = A t t0 = 1 r2 . (28)
Furthermore the two rays or amplitudes A t r0 and A r t must cancel each other,
i.e.
A t r0 + A r t = 0 r = r0 . (29)
From this result, it is seen that the fraction of the intensity reflected is the same
for a wave incident from either side of the boundary, since the negative sign disap-
pears upon squaring the amplitudes. The difference in sign of the amplitudes on
reflection from above and reflection from below indicates a difference of phase of

ty
between the two cases. (a reversal of sign means a displacement in the opposite
es
sense). The results will often be made use of in interference discussions.

us
ot

Pr
sN

5.2 Mathematical Analysis of the thin film interference pattern


Let us consider a transparent thin film of uniform thickness t and refractive index
an
as

, bounded by two planes P Q and RS in air. A ray of light LA incident on the


oh

surface at an angle i, is partly reflected along AB and partly transmitted along


Cl

AC into the film making an angle of refraction r at A. The ray AC again partly
am

reflected at C back into the film along CD and partly transmitted into air. The
ray CD is transmitted at the upper surface and travels along DE.
an

After these two reflections the intensities of the recflected rays drop to a negli-
gible strength. So, we consider only these two reflected rays only for the analysis
.M

of intereference in thin films. These two rays are derived from the same incident
ray LA. Therefore the light rays AB and DE are coherent and travel along par-
allel paths to interfere at infinity. The condition for maxima and minima can be
Dr

deduced by calculating the optical path difference between these two rays at the
point of their meeting.
In order to calculate the path difference between the reflected rays AB and
ACDE, lets draw perpendicular lines from C to the line P Q and from D to ray
AB. Let these points be G and F respectively. As DF is normal to AB, from
points F and D onwards the light rays F B and DE travel equal path. Therefore
the geometrical path difference between the rays is AC + CD AF . But the path
AF is travelled in air having refractive index = 1; while path ACD is travelled in
the film of refractive index . Hence the optical path difference between the rays
before they meet is
= (AC + CD) AF. (30)

Classnotes by Dr. Manamohan Prusty


5.2 Mathematical Analysis of the thin film interference pattern 20

L B E
Inc
ide F 90o
nt
R ay i
G i Q
P A D
r
t Thin Film
rr
R S
C

Figure 8: Interference from a parallel thin film.

Since CG is normal to AD from C and length of CG = t is the thickness of


the film, we can write in 4ACG
CG t

ty
cos r = AC = .
es
AC cos r

us
ot
Furthermore as ACG = DCG = r, we have AC = CD. Using this we can
Pr
sN

write
2t
AC + CD = . (31)
cos r
an
as

AF
Now from 4AF D ADF = i, so sin i = AF = AD sin i. Also because
oh
Cl

AD
AG = GD, where AG = GC tan r = t tan r, and AD = AG + GD, we get
am

AF = AD sin i = 2 t tan r sin i


sin i
= 2 t tan r sin r
an

sin r
sin2 r
.M

= 2 t ( sin i = sin r using Snell0 s Law). (32)


cos r
Substituting the values from equations (31) and (32) into equation (30), we get
Dr

the optical path difference

2t sin2 r
= 2 t
cos r cos r
2 t
1 sin2 r

=
cos r
= 2 t cos r. (33)

As the ray AF is reflected from the surface of an optically denser medium, using
Stokes law, there is a phase change of between the incident and the reflected

Classnotes by Dr. Manamohan Prusty


5.3 Conditions for maxima and minima 21

rays. This is equivalent to an additional path difference of /2 between the rays


AB and ACDE. Thus, the corrected path difference is

o = 2 t cos r . (34)
2

5.3 Conditions for maxima and minima


Maxima occurs when the path difference o = n where n = 0, 1, 2, 3, . . ..
In this case constructive interference takes place and the film appears bright.
This occurs if

2 t cos r = n
2

2 t cos r = n
2

or 2 t cos r = (2n 1) . (35)

ty
es
2

us
ot
Minima occurs when the path difference o = (2n 1) /2 where n =

Pr
0, 1, 2, 3, . . .. In this case destructive interference takes place and the film
sN

appears dark. This occurs if


an
as


2 t cos r = (2n 1) (36)
2 2
oh
Cl


2 t cos r = (2n 1)
am

2 2
or 2 t cos r = n . (37)
an

5.4 Important Points on thin film interference


.M

1. The conditions for thin fim interference depends on three parameters namely
t, and r. For a constant thickness film t is constant. Thus if the
Dr

wavelength of the source remains constant then the nature of fringes depends
on the angle r, which also means it depends on the angle of incident i only.
Consequently when the inclination of the film with respect to the light beam
is changed we find alternate dark and bright fringes. Thus, these type of
fringes are called fringes of equal inclination.

2. Along with constant thickness if the angle of incident is also constant, then
the nature of fringes solely depends on the wavelength of the incident beam.

3. The colours exhibited in reflection by thin films of oil, mica, soap bubbles,
colours of some insects and oxide coatings on hot metal surface etc are due to
interference of light from an extended source such as sky. When white light

Classnotes by Dr. Manamohan Prusty


6 Interference from a wedge shaped film 22

is incident on thin film, it suffers reflection from top and bottom surfaces of
the film. The reflected rays interfere. Since white light consists of a range of
wavelengths, those waves for which the path difference is n will be absent
in the reflected light. The other colours will be reflected. Therefore, the film
will appear coloured corresponding to the reflected colours.

4. Since the reflectance and the transmittance values are complementary to each
other the condition for constructive interference and destructive interference
gets reversed for the transmitted light. Thus if the condition of constructive
interference is satisfied for the reflected beam then the same condition will
provide a destructive interference in the transmitted beam and vice versa.

6 Interference from a wedge shaped film


A wedge is formed by two glass slides resting on each other at one end and separated
by a spacer at the opposite end. Thus a wedge shaped film is defied as a thin film

ty
es
having zero thickness at one end and gradually increasing to a particular thickness

us
ot
at the other end. Thus a thin wedge of air film is formed when two glass slides
are separated by a spacer at one end while the other end are in contact with each
Pr
sN

other (see figure 9).


an
as

6.1 Mathematical analysis for a wedge shaped film


oh
Cl

Let us consider a wedge shaped film formed between two glass plates P Q and P R
by placing a thin wire spacer between the two glass plates at one end. Let be
am

the small wedge angle formed between the two plates and be the refractive index
of the film medium.
an
.M

B E

L R
Inci
Dr

den F D
tR i i
ay A t2 t1

Spacer

I
+r
t1 t2
r

P Q
G C H

Figure 9: Interference from a wedge shaped film.

Classnotes by Dr. Manamohan Prusty


6.1 Mathematical analysis for a wedge shaped film 23

When the light from the monochromatic source L is incident on the wedge at
an angle of incidence i at point A, a part of it gets reflected at the top of the film
as AB ray. A part of the light gets transmitted inside the wedge shaped film and
gets partly reflected at the bottom of the wedge shaped film from point C as ray
CDE. These two rays AB and ACDE interfere producing dark and bright fringes
parallel to the contact edge of the two glass plates. The nature of interference can
be determined by calculating the optical path difference between the light rays
AB and ACDE.
In order to calculate the optical path difference let us assume that t1 is the
thickness of the film at A i.e., AG = t1 . Similarly let us assume that the thickness
of the wedge shaped film at D is t2 i.e., DH = t2 . Let us draw a perpendicular
line from point D onto the ray AB which intersecting it at F and another from
A onto line DH intersecting it at I. Then the optical path difference between the
light rays AB and ACDE is
= (AC + CD) AF. (38)

ty
es
The factor of has been multiplied to AC + CD because the path of the light

us
ACD is traversed inside the film of refractive index while path AF is travelled
ot

in air.
Pr
sN

In the 4AGC GAC = + r, which provides cos ( + r) = AG/AC = t1 /AC.


Similarly in 4DHC HDC = + r from which we have cos ( + r) = DH/DC =
an
t2 /DC. Combining together, we get
as

t1 t2 t1 + t2
oh
Cl

AC + CD = + = . (39)
cos( + r) cos( + r) cos( + r)
am

Again in the 4AF D, sin i = AF/AD. So AF = AD sin i. Now in 4AID, sin =


ID/AD, which provides AD = ID/ sin = (t2 t1 )/ sin . Combining we get
an

t2 t1
AF = AD sin i = sin i
sin
.M

t2 t1 sin i
= sin r
sin sin r  
(t2 t1 )
Dr

0 sin i
= sin r using Snell s law = (40)
sin sin r
Substituting the values of AC + CD and AF from equations (39) and (40) into
equation (38), we have optical path difference
 
t1 + t2 (t2 t1 ) sin r
= (41)
cos( + r) sin
Now we assume that the light is falling normally onto the upper glass plate
P R i.e., i = 0o , then r = 0o sin r = 0. In this limit
(t1 + t2 )
= . (42)
cos
Classnotes by Dr. Manamohan Prusty
6.2 Conditions for dark and bright fringes 24

Further in the limit 0, the points A and D are very close together. So we can
safely assume that t1 t2 (= t) and cos 1. Substituting these values we have
= 2 t. By Stokes law there is an additional phase change of between the
reflection from a denser medium to a rarer medium which is equivalent to having
an additional path difference of /2. Taking into account this additional path
difference we get
= 2 t /2. (43)

6.2 Conditions for dark and bright fringes


The condition for bright fringes is

= n or 2 t = (2n + 1) , (44)
2
and the condition for the dark fringes is

ty
es
= (2n + 1) or 2 t = n . (45)
2

us
ot

6.3 Determination of fringe width or wedge angle


Pr
sN

Consider two successive dark fringes. Lets assume that the fringes are nth order
and (n + 1)th order and they occur at points K and L on the wedge shaped film
an
as

as shown in figure 10. Further lets assume that the thickness of the film at K and
oh
Cl

L be t1 and t2 respectively. Then at K we have


am

2 t1 = n, (46)
and at L
an

2 t2 = (n + 1). (47)
.M

R
N
Dr

Spacer

M
O h
t2
t1

P Q
x1 K l L
x2

Figure 10: Calculation of fringe width and the height of the spacer for the wedge
shaped film.

Classnotes by Dr. Manamohan Prusty


6.4 Determination of thickness of the spacer 25

Subtracting we get

2 (t2 t1 ) = (t2 t1 ) = ON = . (48)
2
Now in 4M ON , we have
ON ON
tan = = , (49)
MO
where is the distance between two successive dark fringes and it also equal to
the separation between two successive bright fringes. Hence it is also called the
fringe width of the fringes. Substituting the value of ON we get the value of fringe
width

= . (50)
2 tan
For small value of wedge angle tan . This provides the value of fringe width

= = . (51)

ty
2 2
es
This shows that an increase in wedge angle makes the fringes move closer.

us
ot

Pr
sN

6.4 Determination of thickness of the spacer


Let us assume that h is the thickness of the spacer and l is the length of the wedge
an
as

i.e., it is the length from the apex of the wedge to the initial position of the spacer.
Then from figure 10, tan = h/l. Therefore,
oh
Cl

h = l tan l (for small wedge angle)


am

l
= l = . (52)
2 2
an

However, if there are N number of dark fringes between K and L which are at x1
and x2 distances from the apex of the wedge, then we can write the fringe width
.M

x2 x1
= . (53)
N
Dr

Using this we can obtain the thickness of the spacer to be


lN
h= . (54)
2 (x2 x1 )

6.5 Number of dark fringes for an air wedge


Let us assume that there are all total N dark fringes in an air ( = 1) wedge.
In this case the length of the wedge becomes x2 x1 = l which contains N dark
fringes. Substituting these values in equation (54), we have
N 2h
h= N = . (55)
2
Classnotes by Dr. Manamohan Prusty
6.6 Salient features of the wedge shaped interference pattern 26

6.6 Salient features of the wedge shaped interference pattern


The interference pattern resulted from the wedge shaped film has the following
salient features
The fringe at the apex is dark
At the apex the two glass surfaces are in contact with each other. Thus
the optical path difference between the interfering beams is /2 (since the
thickness t 0). Thus the two waves interfere destructively resulting in a
dark fringe at the apex t = 0.
Fringes are equidistant from each other

Since the fringe width = . Now , , and are constants, providing
2
the fringe width to be a constant for a given wedge angle. Thus the fringes
are equidistant.
Fringes are straight and parallel

ty
es
Each fringe in the pattern is formed in the sections of the wedge having equal

us
thickness. The locus of points having same thickness lie along lines parallel
ot

to the contact edge. Therefore the fringes are straight and since the fringe
Pr
sN

width is constant i.e., the fringes are at equidistant from each other, they
will be parallel.
an
as

Fringes are localized


The fringes are formed very close to the top surface of the wedge and can be
oh
Cl

seen using a microscope. Thus the fringes are localized.


am

Fringes are called fringes of equal thickness


The various parts of the film are at same inclination angle. Thus, the path
an

difference of various interfering waves changes mainly due to the thickness of


the film. Therefore each fringe will be the locus of points of same thickness.
.M

As a results the fringes are called fringes of equal thickness.


Dr

7 Newtons Rings
Newton first observed circular interference fringes by forming a very thin film of air
or some other transparent medium of varying thickness enclosed between a plane
glass plate and a planoconvex lens of large focal length. Such circular fringes were
called Newtons rings.

7.1 Experimental Arrangement


A thin plano convex lens L is placed on a plane glass plate P , such that its convex
surface makes contact with the plate P at a point O. A thin film of air is formed

Classnotes by Dr. Manamohan Prusty


7.2 Formation of Rings 27

Microscope
G

45o
Source

Gl
as
sP
lat
e

ty
O
es
P

us
ot

Figure 11: Experimental set up for formation of Newtons rings.


Pr
sN

an
as

between the lower surface of the lens and the upper surface of the plate. The
thickness of the air film (gap) is very small at the point of contact and gradually
oh
Cl

increases from the centre outwards as shown in figure 11.


am

7.2 Formation of Rings


an

A monochromatic light from the source such as a sodium vapour lamp, falls on
.M

the glass plate G held at an angle of 45o with the vertical. The plate G reflects
a part of the incident light, normally towards the plane surface of the lens L. At
this plane surface light ray enters into the lens and a part of this light is reflected
Dr

from the bottom surface of the plano-convex lens L at the glass air boundary. The
other part is refracted (or transmitted) through the air film and is further reflected
from the upper surface of glass plate P . By Stokes law this reflected ray has a
phase reversal of at the air-glass interface. These two rays reflected from the top
and the bottom part of the air film are derived from the same incident ray and
are therefore coherent. Since these two coherent rays are very close to each other,
they interfere to produce dark and bright concentric circular fringes around the
centre of the lens O. The condition of bright and dark fringes depend on the path
difference between the interfering rays which in turn depends on the thickness of
the air film at the point of incidence.

Classnotes by Dr. Manamohan Prusty


7.3 Mathematical Interpretation for the formation of Newtons rings
28

L rn
P
N
t
G
Q M

Figure 12: Schematic diagram for formation of Newtons rings.

7.3 Mathematical Interpretation for the formation of Newtons rings

ty
es

us
Let t be the thickness of the air film at a point P on the plano-convex lens and Q
ot

on the glass plate, be the wavelength of the incident light and R be the radius
Pr
sN

of curvature of the plano convex lens. The optical path difference (see equation
33) between the two interfering waves is given by
an
as

= 2 t cos r. (56)
oh
Cl

If the incidence light is normal to the top surface of the plano convex lens then
i = 0 and so r = 0. In this case = 2 t. Now as one of the rays travel from
am

denser to rarer medium it undergoes an additional phase difference which is


equivalent to having an additional path difference of /2. Taking this we have the
an

total optical path difference o = 2 t /2.


.M

7.3.1 Condition for bright and dark fringes


For constructive interference the total path difference o = n, which provides
Dr

the condition for bright fringes to be



2 t /2 = n 2 t = (2 n + 1) . (57)
2
For destructive interference the total path difference o = (2n 1)/2, which
provides the condition for dark fringes to be

2 t /2 = (2n 1) 2 t = n . (58)
2
For determining 2 t, we consider that there is a nth order fringe located at P Q
having film thickness t. Let the radius of the circular fringe be N P = M Q = rn .

Classnotes by Dr. Manamohan Prusty


7.4 Determination of wavelength or the radius of curvature of a lens
29

Then by Pythagoras theorem on 4N OP we have

OP 2 = P N 2 + ON 2
R2 = rn2 + (R t)2 = rn2 + R2 + t2 2Rt
rn2 = 2Rt t2 2Rt ( R  t)
r2 d2
2t = n = n , (59)
R 4R
where dn is the diameter of the nth ring. Substituting this value into the equations
for bright and dark fringes we obtain for nth order bright fringe

d2n
= (2n + 1)
4R 2
s 
1 4R
dn = n+
2

ty
s
es

1
dn n+ (60)

us
ot
2

Pr
sN

and for dark fringes


an
d2n n
as

=
4R
oh
Cl

s
n 4R
dn =
am



dn n (61)
an

7.4 Determination of wavelength or the radius of curvature of a lens


.M

Consider two dark rings nth order and mth order formed in an air film ( = 1),
then they satisfy the following equations
Dr

d2n = n 4R and d2m = m 4R. (62)

Subtracting we get

d2m d2n = 4 R (m n)
d2m d2n d2m d2n
= or R = . (63)
4 R (m n) 4 (m n)

Similar results can be obtained for the bright rings. In the experimental arrange-
ment of the Newtons rings, the diameters dm and dn of the mth and nth dark rings

Classnotes by Dr. Manamohan Prusty


7.5 Determination of refractive index of a liquid by Newtons rings30

B
d2mD

Diameter2
d2m d2n

d2n C
n m
mn
E F
A Number of rings

Figure 13: Variation of the square of the diameter with respect to the number of
fringes for a Newtons ring experiment.

are noted with a travelling microscope. The radius of curvature of the lens R can

ty
be measured using spherometer. Thus wavelength of the incident light can be
es
found out. In a similar way if we know the wavelength of the incident light, then

us
ot
the radius of curvature of the lens can also be determined.
d2 d2n
For accuracy the values of m
Pr
sN

can be calculated from the graph drawn


mn
between the number of rings and the square of the corresponding diameters, as
an
there are many rings formed with increasing diameters. One such graph is shown
as

in figure 13. From the graph we can measure the slope of the straight line AB
oh
Cl

which is
CD d2 d2n
= m
am

slope = . (64)
EF mn
This value can be used to determine either the wavelength of the source or the
an

radius of curvature R of the lens.


.M

7.5 Determination of refractive index of a liquid by Newtons rings


The plane convex lens and the plate glass plate arranged to form Newtons rings
Dr

is taken within a container and the light is made to incident on the lens. First
Newtons rings are formed when there is an air film between the lens and the plate.
The diameters of the dark rings are formed by using travelling microscope. Then
d2m d2n
slopeair =
= 4 R. (65)
mn
Now the liquid whose refractive index is to be measured is poured into the
container slowly without disturbing the whole arrangement. Again the diameters
of the dark rings are measured and the slope is determined. Then
d02m d02n 4 R
slopemedium = = . (66)
mn

Classnotes by Dr. Manamohan Prusty


8 Michelson Interferometer 31

Using the above two equations we can determine the refractive index of the liquid
medium to be
slopeair
= . (67)
slopemedium

8 Michelson Interferometer
The Michelson interferometer is one of the best known examples of amplitude
splitting interferometers that utilise the arrangement of mirrors and beam splitters.
This is illustrated in figure 14. Light from the source S is incident at an angle of 45o
on a half-silvered rear-surface of the beam splitter P at point A. The beam splitter
divides the wave into two. The transmitted ray passes through the compensator
C, reflects from the stationary mirror M2 and returns through the compensator to
point A where it reflects to the observer O. Meanwhile, the reflected ray traverses
P , reflects from movable mirror M1 , passes through P and recombines with the
transmitted ray, as it goes to observer O. Note that the light reflected beam

ty
es
passes through the beam splitter three times, where as without the compensator

us
the transmitted beam traverses only once. Consequently, each beam will pass
ot

through equal thickness of glass only when the compensator C is inserted in the
Pr
sN

path of the transmitted beam. The optical compensator C is an exact duplicate


of the beam splitter, with the exception of any possible silvering. It ensures that
an
both beams travel the same distance in glass. It is positioned at an angle of 45o ,
as

oh
Cl

am
an
.M
Dr

Figure 14: The Michelson Interferometer.

Classnotes by Dr. Manamohan Prusty


8.1 Formation of interference fringes in Michelson Interferometer 32

so that the beam splitter and the compensator are parallel to each other.

8.1 Formation of interference fringes in Michelson Interferometer


Lets assume that the light source is monochromatic having wavelength and
is the inclination of the incident beam with respect to the optical axis. Then the
transmitted rays and the reflected rays are going to interfere with a path difference
of
= 2(AN AM ) cos = 2 d cos , (68)
where AN AM = d is the difference in the distance between the positions of the
mirrors M1 and M2 with respect to point A. Again there is an additional phase
difference of between the rays AN and AM , because of the fact that AN is
internally reflected from the beam splitter while AM is externally reflected from
the point A. Thus, the condition for constructive interference is

ty
2 d cos = n 2 d cos = (2n + 1) , (69)
es
2 2

us
ot
and the condition for destructive interference is
Pr
sN


2 d cos = (2n + 1) 2 d cos = m (70)
2 2
an
as

where m, n are integers. For a normal beam = 0 and the above condition changes
oh
Cl

to 2 d = m , for a dark fringe. Similarly for a normal beam the condition of bright
fringe is 2 d cos = (2n + 1) (/2). Thus the fringes formed are bright and dark
am

rings arranged alternatively.


an

8.1.1 Special Cases of d:


.M

Case 1 : When d = 0
When both the mirrors M1 and M2 are at equal distance from point A i.e., they
are symmetrically placed then = 0 = 0 . Thus, the central fringe will be a dark
Dr

fringe.

Case 2 : When d =
4
If the mirror M1 is moved such that d = (/4), then for normal incidence =
2 (/4) = /2 which correspond to the condition of a bright fringe. Thus, the
central position will become a bright fringe. Further movement of the mirror M1
by a distance /4 will provide = 2 (/4 + /4) = corresponding to a dark
fringe at the centre. Thus we conclude that as the mirror M1 is moved parallel to
themselves then the centre point changes from dark to bright alternatively.
Case 3 : When 6= 0
When we observe the fringe pattern with an oblique incidence 6= 0, then =

Classnotes by Dr. Manamohan Prusty


8.2 Applications of Michelsons interferometer 33

2 d cos = n provides a destructive interference. Thus, if we take a particular n


then

2 d cos = constant
1
cos . (71)
d
So as d increases the fringes appear as they are expanding radially outward from
center.

8.2 Applications of Michelsons interferometer


8.2.1 Determination of wavelength of a monochromatic light wave
For normal incidence = 0
2 d = m, (72)
where m is an integer. Now mirror M1 is moved parallel to itself by a distance 4x

ty
es
and the number of fringes, n crossing the field of view are counted, then

us
ot

2 d = m
Pr
sN

2 (d + 4x) = (m + n). (73)

By subtraction, we obtain
an
as

2 4x = n
oh
Cl

2 4x
= . (74)
am

n
The above relation can be used to determine the wavelength of a monochromatic
an

light source.
.M

8.2.2 Measurement of resolution of closely spaced spectral lines


Sometimes the actual source is not monochromatic but is a mixture of two closely
Dr

lying wavelengths e.g., sodium produces two wavelengths 5890A and 5896A. Let
the two wavelengths be 1 and 2 . When such a source is used the resulting
interference pattern is the combinations of two interference pattern corresponding
to the two wavelengths. Thus, minima is the point for which both the wavelengths
provides destructive interference simultaneously. From such a point if the mirror
M1 is moved then the intensity will increase and again become a minimum. This
is the situation when one fringe corresponding to wavelength 1 is more than the
fringe of 2 in the field of view. Thus

24x = m1 1
24x = m2 2 = (m1 1)2 (75)

Classnotes by Dr. Manamohan Prusty


8.2 Applications of Michelsons interferometer 34

From the first equation m1 = 24x/1 which can be substituted into the second
equation to obtain
 
1 1
24x = 1
1 1
2 1 1
=
1 2 24x
1 2
2 1 =
24x
2av
= , (76)
24x
where, = 2 1 and 2 1 = av . This relation can be used to measure
small differences in wavelengths.

8.2.3 Determination of thickness of a thin transparent sheet

ty
es
If a transparent sheet of thickness t and refractive index is inserted in one of

us
ot

the beams of the Michelson interferometer, then that beam travels an optical path
Pr
sN

of t inside that medium. It results in an increase in optical path difference of


(t t) compared to air medium. But since the beam travels twice, the extra path
difference between the interfering beams is 2(t t) = 2t( 1). As a result there
an
as

is a shift in the number of fringes at the center of the interference pattern. Lets
oh
Cl

assume that m is the number of fringes that get shifted then


am

2t( 1) = m . (77)

It is difficult to measure the sudden shift in the number of fringes m which shifts,
an

when the transparent sheet is inserted in one of the beams. This difficulty is
.M

overcome with the help of white light. Initially white light is used to locate the
central dark fringe. The thin sheet is then inserted. As a result the nature of the
central fringe gets changed. The mirror M1 is then moved parallel till again a dark
Dr

fringe is at the centre. The distance x through which the mirror is moved is noted
down. The white light is now replaced with monochromatic light of wavelength
and the mirror M1 is moved back slowly while counting the number of fringes
shifted, m within the distance x. Then

x = 2t( 1) = m ,
m
t= . (78)
2( 1)

This method is used to measure the thickness of a thin transparent sheet using
Michelson interferometer.

Classnotes by Dr. Manamohan Prusty


9 Applications of Interference 35

9 Applications of Interference
The applications of interference is very wide. It can be used to measure wave-
lengths accurately up to eight significant digits. It also can be used for measuring
small displacements and to measure refractive indices of liquids and gases. In
addition to these the interference phenomena can be used for the following appli-
cations.

9.1 Testing the flatness of a surface


Certain machine components re-
quire that the surface of it should
be flat up to some extent to reduce
stress and fatigue. Thus surfaces
which are subjected to load rever-
sals or high pressure require to be

ty
es
smooth. The smoothness can be
quickly inspected visually by keep-

us
ot

ing an optically flat glass surface at


Pr
sN

an angle and illuminating it with a


monochromatic light source. If the Figure 15: Interference pattern for different
an
component surface is smooth and type of flat surfaces (a) Concave surface, (b)
as

straight then the air wedge formed Perfectly flat surface and (c) Convex surface.
oh
Cl

between the glass plate and the


component produces straight, parallel and equidistant fringe. However if the
am

fringes are curved towards the contact edge the surface is concave and if the fringes
curve away from the apex, then the surface of the component is convex. This is
an

illustrated in figure 15.


.M

9.2 Testing of a lens surface


It is essential to test the grinding
Dr

of a lens surface before they can be


used for applications in telescopes
and other instruments. The grind-
ing of a lens surface is tested by
placing the lens on a master. The
master is an optical flat which is
Figure 16: Inspection of lenses using New-
a cylindrical disc made from fused
tons rings (a) Circular ring pattern indicat-
quartz. The two faces of the master
ing high quality grinding (b) Distorted ring
are perfectly parallel to each other
pattern indicating irregularities on the lens
and the departure from flatness is
surface.

Classnotes by Dr. Manamohan Prusty


9.3 Thickness of a Thin film coating 36

usually less than a light wavelength. If the lens is ground perfectly, Newton rings
of circular fringe patterns will be observed. However, if the grinding is not perfect,
then variation from circular shapes are observed (see figure 16) which provides an
indication of how the lens must be ground and polished to remove the imperfec-
tions.

9.3 Thickness of a Thin film coating


Interference based on multiple reflections is used to determine the thickness of a
metallic or dielectric thin film which are often coated on optical components. For
this a partially coated substrate is used. This substrate and the thin film on it are
coated with a transparent metallic film of uniform thickness. Another glass plate is
also coated with the transparent metallic film. The coated substrate and the glass
plate are brought in contact with each other under a monochromatic light source.
The reflected light source shows interference fringes as shown in figure 17(b). We
observe a shift in the interference fringes as we pass from the region of transparent

ty
es
coated area to the region where the metallic film is present. The shift in fringes

us
is related to the change in path difference as we move from one region to another
ot

region. Assuming t as the thickness of the coated film whose thickness is to be


Pr
sN

determined, the extra path difference is 2 t. Thus, the amount of displacement of


one set of fringes with respect to the second set is given by
an
s
as

s = 2t t = . (79)
2
oh
Cl

So, by measuring the value of shift s in the formed fringes one can determine the
thickness of the thin film coating.
am
an
.M
Dr

Figure 17: (a)Setup for the determination of the thickness of a thin film coating.
(b) Nature of interference fringes formed using the setup.

9.4 Anti-reflection (AR) coating


Whenever a ray of light moves from one medium to another, some portion of the
light is reflected at the interface between the two media. The strength of the

Classnotes by Dr. Manamohan Prusty


9.4 Anti-reflection (AR) coating 37

reflection depends on the ratio of the refractive indices of the two media as well as
the angle of the surface to the beam of light. The exact value can be calculated
using the Fresnel equations.
When the light enters the interface at normal incidence, the intensity of light
reflected is given by the reflection coefficient or reflectance, R given by
 2
1 2
R= . (80)
1 + 2
where 1 and 2 are the refractive indices of the first and second media respectively
(see figure 18 for an illustration). The value of the reflectance R varies from 0 (for
no reflection) to 1 (all light gets reflected). Complementary to R is the transmission
coefficient or transmittance, T . If absorption and scattering are neglected, then
the value T = 1R. So, when a beam of light with intensity I is incident on
the surface, a beam of intensity R I is reflected, and a beam with intensity T I is
transmitted into the medium.
When more surfaces are there,

ty
es
the number of reflections will also

us
be more thus reducing the amount
ot

of transmitted light. As such, opti-


Pr
sN

cal instruments such as telescopes


and cameras, which have multi-
an
as

component glass lenses, are going


to produce poor quality of image.
oh
Cl

This is due to the fact that a por-


tion of the light is reflected away
am

which is lost and wasted. Due


to these kind of losses, solar cells Figure 18: Reflection at the interface of two
an

which operate during day light will media.


have a less efficiency to produce
.M

electrical energy. Such losses can be reduced by coating the surface with a thin
transparent film of suitable thickness and refractive index. Such coatings are called
Dr

antireflection coatings. The presence of such coatings in typical imaging systems


improves the efficiency of the system by reducing the amount of loss in light due
to reflection. Therefore, we can write that, An antireflective or anti-reflection
(AR) coating is a type of optical coating applied to the surface of lenses and other
optical elements to reduce reflection.
In 1935 Alexander Smakula discovered that the reflections from a surface can
be reduced by coating the surface with a thin transparent dielectric film. A film
can act as an AR coating if it satisfies the following conditions :
(a) Phase condition : The waves getting reflected from the top and bottom
surfaces of the film should be of opposite phase such that their superposition
produces destructive interference.

Classnotes by Dr. Manamohan Prusty


9.4 Anti-reflection (AR) coating 38

(b) Amplitude condition : The waves overlapping after reflections should be


of equal amplitude such that the destructive interference is of zero intensity.
These conditions enable us to determine the thickness and the refractive index of
the material to be used for forming the AR coating.

9.4.1 Phase condition and minimum thickness of the AR coating


Let the thickness of the AR coating film be t with a refractive index of 1 . This
film coated over another transparent medium of refractive index 2 . In order to
satisfy the phase condition between the reflected rays Ray 1 and Ray 2, which has
been obtained from the top and the bottom surfaces of the film (see figure 18),
the two rays must be out of phase by 180o . In other words they should maintain
a path difference of odd number of half waves, (2n + 1) /2. From the figure, if
the light is falling normally on the surface, the optical path difference between the
rays is given by
4 = 2 1 t /2 /2 = 2 1 t . (81)

ty
es
The two additional path differences of /2 are because there is a phase change

us
ot
for the ray 1 at the top surface of the film and another phase change at the

Pr
interface of film and the second medium of refractive index 2 . An additional path
sN

difference of does not change the original phase relation. Thus for destructive
interference between rays 1 and 2, requires
an
as


4 = 2 1 t = (2n + 1) .
oh

(82)
Cl

2
am

For thickness to be minimum n = 0, providing



2 1 tmin = tmin = . (83)
an

2 4 1
This says that the optical thickness of the AR coating should be of one-quarter
.M

wavelength. Such coatings suppresses the reflections of the corresponding wave-


length of light and allows to pass into the transmitted medium.
Dr

9.4.2 Amplitude condition and the reflactive index of the AR coating


The amplitude condition requires that the amplitudes of the rays 1 and 2 are equal.
This happens if  2  2
1 air 2 1
= . (84)
1 + air 2 + 1
We know that the refractive index of air air = 1. Substituting this and taking
square root on both sides of the above equation, we get
1 1 2 1
= , (85)
1 + 1 2 + 1

Classnotes by Dr. Manamohan Prusty


9.4 Anti-reflection (AR) coating 39

which can be solved to provide



21 = 2 1 = 2 . (86)

This shows that the refractive index of the anti-reflection film 1 should be less
than the refractive index of the transmitted medium.
Normally the transmitted medium is glass having refractive index 2 = 1.5.
This gives the refractive index of the AR coating to be 1 = 1.5 = 1.22. Materials
having refractive index closer to his value are magnesium fluoride M gF2 ( = 1.38),
cryolite, 3N aF.AIF3 ( = 1.36). Apart from this refractive index requirement the
materials should be durable, should adhere well with the transmitted medium,
scratch proof and insoluble in ordinary solvents. M gF2 and cryolite satisfy these
conditions. However M gF2 is cheaper and hence widely used as AR coating.
Furthermore the conditions for AR coating is satisfied for a particular wave-
length. Normally the wavelength chosen is 550 nm, which is more sensitive to eye
and is located in the yellow-green region of the visible spectrum. So, when a white

ty
light is incident onto such a film, the reflection of red and violet will be larger.
es
This provides a purple hue when the component is observed in reflected light.

us
ot

Pr
sN

an
as

oh
Cl

am
an
.M
Dr

Classnotes by Dr. Manamohan Prusty


10 Introduction to Diffraction 40

10 Introduction to Diffraction
Some people believe it was Leonardo da Vinci who first observed diffraction. How-
ever around 1660 it was Grimaldi who discovered diffraction of light and gave it the
name diffraction which means breaking up. He interpreted diffraction on his own
way, but could not explain successfully the phenomenon. It was again Huygens
wave theory which provides a ready explanation of diffraction. Augustin-Jean Fres-
nel, a French physicist who believed in the wave theory of light, submitted a paper
in 1818 to the French Academy of sciences describing his experiments explaining
the wave-theory of diffraction. For this he received the prize of the Academie
des sciences at Paris. Later in 1823 Joseph von Fraunhoffer published his theory
of diffraction and demonstrated the accurate measurement of the wavelength of
light.
It is common experience that light travels in a straight line. However, if a
beam of light passes through a small opening it spreads to some extent to the
geometrical shadow regions. So if light is propagated as a wave then, just like

ty
es
sound waves, it bends around the edges of an opaque obstacle and illuminates

us
the geometrical shadow regions. This phenomenon is called diffraction os light.
ot

Diffraction is a phenomenon exhibited by all types of waves. TV and VHF radio


Pr
sN

use short waves (few metres), which do not diffract significantly around natural
barriers such as hills, buildings and cliffs. Thus receiving aerials must be aligned
an
to the transmitters. On the oher hand. long-wave radio signals (around 1km)
as

diffract around must of the objects and so can be received at places that lie within
oh
Cl

a short wave shadow.


Thus, diffraction of light is the phenomenon of bending of light waves around
am

the corners of obstacle placed in its path and their spreading into the regions
of geometrical shadow. Diffraction phenomenon becomes prominent when the
an

dimensions of the obstacle or aperture are comparable to the wavelength of light.


It occurs due to mutual interference of secondary wavelets starting from portions
.M

of the primary wavefront, which are allowed to pass through the aperture. So, just
like interference, it also produces light and dark fringes.
Dr

10.1 Dependence of diffraction on wavelength


Consider an opening of length d on which a plane wavefront is incident. For an
illustration see figure 19. When the opening is large compared to the wavelength,
as in case (a), the waves do not bend around the edges. Instead they travel in a
straight line. When the opening is small and comparable with the wavelength, as
in case (b), the bending effect around the edges is high and is noticeable. However
when the opening is very small, as in case (c), the waves spread over all the surface
behind the opening. So, the opening appears to act as an independent source of
wave i.e., a point source, propagating light in all directions. It shows that the

Classnotes by Dr. Manamohan Prusty


10.2 Fresnels explanation of diffraction 41

Figure 19: Dependence of the diffraction phenomenon on wavelength and the size
of the obstacle.

plane wave does not bend at the opening when d >> . Bending is considerable
when d and when >> d, the bending takes place to such an extent that
light can be perceived in a direction normal to the direction of propagation such
that the opening acts as a point source.

ty
Since the wavelength of light is very small compared to any physical obstacle,
es
it provides us the impression that light travels in a straight line. However, careful

us
ot
observations show that when light passing through tiny holes produce alternate
Pr
sN

regions of brightness and darkness beyond the region of the geometrical shadow.
Such pattern of alternate light and dark bands are called as diffraction pattern.
The bright central portion is called the central maxima and it is bounded by a
an
as

series of secondary maximas separated by dark band minimas. The alternate light
oh
Cl

and dark regions are formed due to interference of diffracted light waves. just like
interference, diffraction phenomenon is a fundamental concept demonstrating the
am

wave nature of light.


an

10.2 Fresnels explanation of diffraction


.M

Fresnel correctly explained the phenomenon of


diffraction by using Huygens principle of wave-
fronts (wavelets) in conjuction with the Youngs
Dr

principle of interference of waves. He explained


that the appearance of bright and dark bands in
diffraction are due to the superposition and inter-
ference of waves. The points on the primary wave-
front are mutually coherent and the secondary
waves emitted by them are also coherent and in-
terfere to produce the diffraction pattern.
When a plane wavefront is incident on a slit,
a small portion of the wave is allowed to pass tho- Figure 20: Illustration of Fres-
rugh the slit. Each point on this broken wavefront nels explanation on diffraction
phenomena.

Classnotes by Dr. Manamohan Prusty


10.3 Types of diffraction 42

acts as an individual point source and generates spherical secondary wavelets.


These secondary wavefronts then interfere mutually to produce bright and dark
fringes on the screen. Constructing the envelope of these secondary wavelets shows
that they spread into the geometrical shadow regions. This is illustrated in figure
20. Diffraction effects will be observed only when a narrow source is used and
a part of the wave is cut off by some obstacle. Therefore, it can be said that,
diffraction of light is the result of the superposition of waves from coherent sources
on the same wavefront, after the wavefront is distorted by some obstacle.

10.3 Types of diffraction


The diffraction phenomena are broadly classified into two types: Fresnel diffrac-
tion and Fraunhoffer diffraction.

10.3.1 Fresnel diffraction

ty
In this type of diffraction, the source of light and the screen are effectively at
es
finite distances from the obstacle as shown in figure 21(a). It does not require any

us
ot
lenses to make the rays of light parallel or convergent. Thus the incident and the
Pr
sN

diffracted wavefronts are not parallel. As a result the phases of secondary wavelets
are not the same at all points in the plane of the obstacle. It is experimentally
simple but the analysis proves to be very complex. The important points about
an
as

Fresnel diffraction are


oh
Cl

(i) The source of the screen or both are at finite distance from the diffracting
am

element (aperture or obstacle).

(ii) No lenses are used to make the rays parallel or convergent.


an

(iii) The incident wavefront is not plane but it is either cylindrical (for a line
.M

source) or spherical (for a point source).

(iv) The phase of the secondary waves is not the same at all the points in the
Dr

plane of the aperture or the obstacle.

(v) The resultant amplitude at any point on the screen is obtained by mutual
interference of secondary waves from different elements of exposed part of
wavefronts.

(vi) In this type of diffraction, distances are important that the angular inclina-
tions.

(vii) The analysis of this type of diffractions can be carried out with approxima-
tions only.

Classnotes by Dr. Manamohan Prusty


10.3 Types of diffraction 43

Figure 21: Conditions for (a) Fresnel diffraction and (b) Fraunhoffer diffraction.

10.3.2 Fraunhoffer diffraction

ty
es
In this type of diffraction, the source of the light and the screen are effectively

us
ot

at infinite distances from the obstacle. The conditions required for this type of
Pr
sN

diffraction is achieved by using two convex lenses, one to make the light beam
parallel from the source and other to focus the light onto the screen as shown in
figure 21(b). As such, the incident wavefront and the secondary wavelets, which
an
as

originated from the unblocked positions of the wavefront, are in the same phase
oh
Cl

at every point in the plane of the obstacle. The diffraction is produced due to
interference of parallel secondary wavefronts which are focused onto the screen by a
am

convex lens. Since the rays are parallel, therefore, the mathematics involved in the
analysis of this type of diffraction is simple. The important points of Fraunhoffer
an

diffraction are
.M

(i) The source and the screen are effectively at infinite distance from the diffract-
ing element (aperture or obstacle).
Dr

(ii) The arrangement of two convex lenses makes the source and the screen at
infinity fro teh obstacle. One of the convex lens is used to make the light
from the source parallel before it falls on the aperture and the other convex
lens is used to focus the light after diffraction on the screen.

(iii) The incident wavefront is plane and the secondary waves originating from
the exposed part of the wavefront are in the same phase at every point in the
plane of the aperture.

(iv) The diffraction is produced by interference between parallel waves which are
brought to focus with a convex lens.

Classnotes by Dr. Manamohan Prusty


11 Resultant of multiple simple harmonic motions 44

(v) In Fraunhoffer diffraction, angular inclinations are important than the dis-
tances.
(vi) This type of diffractions can be analysed with more accuracy in analytical
terms.

11 Resultant of multiple simple harmonic motions


Let us assume that a particle is simultaneously acted
upon by n simple harmonic motion (SHM) vibrations.
All the vibrations have same amplitude A and repre-
sents the phase difference between successive vibrations.
Figure 22 represents the schematic diagram of such vi-
brations. A phase difference of exists between BC and
CD, CD and DE, etc. Thus the phase difference be-
tween DE and BC is 2 , between EF and BC is 3 ,

ty
es
etc. To determine the resultant amplitude R and phase

us
, let us resolve the individual amplitudes along BC and Figure 22: Resultant of
ot

those perpendicular to BC. The resultant component multiple SHMs.


Pr
sN

along BC is
R cos = A [1 + cos + cos 2 + cos 3 + . . . + cos (n 1)] (87)
an
as

and
oh
Cl

R sin = A [sin + sin 2 + sin 3 + . . . + sin (n 1)]. (88)


Multiplying equation (87) by 2 sin(/2) yields
am


2 R cos sin = A [2 sin + 2 cos sin + . . . + 2 cos (n 1) sin ]
2 2 2 2
an

which leads to
.M

  
3
2 R cos sin = A 2 sin + sin sin
2 2 2 2
Dr

 
(2n 1) (2 n 3)
+ ... + sin sin
2 2
resulting in  
(2 n 1)
2 R cos sin = A sin + sin .
2 2 2
Further simplification gives
n (n 1)
2 R cos sin = 2 A sin cos
2 2 2
sin (n/2) (n 1)
R cos = A cos . (89)
sin (/2) 2

Classnotes by Dr. Manamohan Prusty


11 Resultant of multiple simple harmonic motions 45

Multiplying equation (88) by 2 sin(/2) and going through the same simplification
process, we will obtain
sin (n/2) (n 1)
R sin = A sin . (90)
sin (/2) 2
Squaring equations (89) and (90) and adding, we have the value of resultant am-
plitude R to be
 2
2 2 sin (n/2) sin (n/2)
R =A R=A . (91)
sin (/2) sin (/2)
Now dividing equation (90) by equation (89), we obtain
(n 1)
tan = tan ,
2
providing the resultant phase angle = (n1)/2. In the limit of n becoming very

ty
large and the amplitudes A and the phase difference extremely small quantities,
es
we can further simplify the expressions for the resultant amplitude R and the net

us
ot
phase difference to

Pr
sN

sin sin sin sin


R = A A = nA = A0 (92)
sin (/n) (/n)
an
as

(n 1) n
and = = , (93)
oh
Cl

2 2
where we have assumed = n /2 and A0 = n A.
am

The same results can be obtained by using complex numbers. For this we note
that equation (87) can be written as
an

R cos = A Real 1 + ei + ei 2 + ei 3 + . . . + ei (n1)



.M

n1
X 1 ei n
= A Real ei k = A Real (94)
k=0
1 e
Dr

using the fact that for a geometric series in r, we have


1 rn
1 + r + r2 + . . . + rn1 = .
1r
Now
1 ei n ei n /2 (ei n /2 ei n /2 ) sin (n/2) i (n1) /2
i
= i /2 i /2 i /2
= e .
1e e (e e ) sin (/2)
Therefore, equation (94) becomes
sin (n/2) sin (n/2) (n 1)
R cos = A Real ei (n1) /2 = A cos . (95)
sin (/2) sin (/2) 2

Classnotes by Dr. Manamohan Prusty


12 Fraunhoffer diffraction from a single slit 46

Similarly, for the equation (87), we can obtain

R sin = A Im ei + ei 2 + ei 3 + . . . + ei (n1)

 
sin (n/2) i (n1) /2 sin (n/2) (n 1)
= A Im e 1 = sin .
sin (/2) sin (/2) 2

12 Fraunhoffer diffraction from a single slit


12.1 Arrangement
To obtain a Fraunhoffer diffraction
pattern two convex lenses are used,
one is to get a parallel beam of light
(plane waves) from the source and the
other is to converge the parallel beam

ty
onto the screen as shown in figure 23.
es
In this arrangement,slit AB of width d

us
ot
is illuminated by using a parallel beam
of monochromatic light of wavelength
Pr
sN

. The diffracted beam of light is then


focused onto the screen by the convex
an
as

lenx L2 .
As per the geometrical optics we
oh
Cl

should get a sharp image of the slit Figure 23: Schematic arrangement for
on the screen. However, a diffraction Fraunhoffer diffraction from a single slit.
am

pattern consisting of a central bright


band (at O) surrounded by alternate dark and bright bands of decreasing intensity
an

is observed on both sides of the central spot.


.M

12.2 Theory
Dr

According to Huygens principle, each point on slit AB becomes source of sec-


ondary wavelets sending light in all directions. These secondary wavefronts trav-
elling at an angle = 0 i.e., in the direction of incident beam, comes to focus
at point O and forms the central bright spot. This is because of the fact that
all the secondary wavelets are equidistant from the point O. As such the path
difference is zero. It enhances the intensity of light at the point central spot O.
However at other point P , different waves travel different paths due to the fact
that they make an angle with respect to horizontal axis. As such the intensity
at point P depends on the path difference between secondary waves emitted from
the wavefronts originated at the slit. Let us try to understand the reasons for this
type of distribution of intensity.

Classnotes by Dr. Manamohan Prusty


12.3 Qualitative Analysis 47

12.3 Qualitative Analysis


12.3.1 Formation of Central Maxima
When a parallel beam of light falls on the slit AB, according to Huygens principle,
each point on AB acts as a source and generate secondary wavelets. Thus all points
constituting AB act as a string of point sources. Since all these points on AB are
in phase, the point sources will be coherent. Therefore, the optical path difference
between the lower and upper portions reaching the central spot O of the slit will be
zero i.e., the waves will be in phase. This produces the zero order central maxima
at point O.

12.3.2 Formation of Minima


Now consider the secondary waves travelling in a direction making an angle
from the horizonal axis. It is convenient to divide the wavefront into two equal
halves AE and EB as shown in figure 24(a). A line AC is drawn perpendicular to

ty
es
the direction of the diffracted ray BCP . Now the wave BC travels farther than
the wave ED. Using simple geometry, we can calculate that the path difference

us
ot

between these two waves is ED = (d/2) sin . If ED = /2, the two waves will
Pr
sN

interfere destructively and will produce a dark spot. For every point in AE, there
is a corresponding point in EB for which the path difference will be /2. Hence
an
the waves from the upper half of the slit AE interfere destructively with waves
as

from the lower half of the slit if


oh
Cl

d
sin = d sin = . (96)
am

2 2
This produces zero intensity at point P called the first order minimum of the
an

diffraction pattern. We can divide the slit into four parts, six parts, eight parts
and so on. Similar arguments as above will then produce dark bands whenever
.M

d sin = 2, 3, 4, . . . , etc. (97)


Dr

These are known as second, third, fourth etc order minima respectively. These
minimas are symmetric about the central maxima i.e., there will be minimas at
an angle in the opposite side of the central maxima. So, in general we can say
that nth order minima occurs if the following condition is satisfied

d sin = n (where n = 1, 2, 3, . . .). (98)

12.3.3 Formation of secondary Maxima


In addition to the central maxima, there are secondary maximas, which lie in
between the secondary minimas on either side of the central maxima. In order to
understand how they occur, we divide the slit into three equal parts. The secondary

Classnotes by Dr. Manamohan Prusty


12.4 Intensity distribution - Quantitative 48

Figure 24: Conditions for (a) first order minimum and (b) first order maximum in
Fraunhoffer single slit diffraction pattern

ty
es

us
ot
waves generated from the upper two parts cancel each other due to destructive

Pr
interference. However, the waves generated form the third region interfere to
sN

produce a maxima at point P . Thus, if (d/3) sin = /2 then it produces the first
order maxima. This is explained using figure 24(b). This means the condition for
an
as

first order secondary maxima to occur is


oh
Cl

d 3
sin = d sin = . (99)
3 2 2
am

Similarly we can divide the slit into five, seven,. . . etc parts to produce second,
third,. . . etc orders of secondary maximas respectively for
an

5 7
d sin = , , . . . , etc. (100)
.M

2 2
In general the condition for nth order secondary maxima is
Dr

(2 n + 1)
d sin = . (101)
2
As the order of secondary maxima increases its intensity decreases rapidly.
To summarize, the Fraunhoffer diffraction pattern from a single slit consists
of a central maximum at O surrounded alternatively by secondary maximas and
minimas on both the sides.

12.4 Intensity distribution - Quantitative


In order to understand quantitatively the distribution of intensities in Fraunhoffer
single slit diffraction pattern, let us assume that a plane wave is incident normally

Classnotes by Dr. Manamohan Prusty


12.4 Intensity distribution - Quantitative 49

on the slit of width d. According to Huygens principle each point inside the slit
acts as a source of secondary wavelets. So, let us imagine that this slit is divided
into N equal parts each of width 4x = d/N . Let the amplitude of wave originating
from each part be A. The path difference originating from any two consecutive
parts is 4x sin which is equivalent to having a phase difference of
2 4x sin 2 d sin
= = . (102)
N
Thus the disturbances reaching at point P from the first, second, third,. . . , nth part
of the slit are A cos t, A cos (t + ), A cos (t + 2 ), . . . , A cos (t + (n 1) )
respectively. By the principle of superposition, the total disturbance at point
P is the sum of the individual disturbances reaching at point P . Following the
procedure given in section (11), we can find that the resultant amplitude of the
superposed wave is
sin d sin

sin (n/2)
R=A =A .

ty
sin(/2) sin dNsin
es

us
Let us assume that = d sin /, then the above equation simplifies to
ot

sin sin sin sin


Pr
sN

R=A
A =NA = A0 . (103)
sin N N

an
as

where, we have assumed N to be very large such that A, /N are very small and the
product N A = A0 always remains finite. Now since the intensity is proportional
oh
Cl

to the square of amplitude we can write the intensity to be


am

2
sin2

2 sin
I R = A0 I = I0 , (104)
2
an

where I0 A20 is the intensity of the principal or central maxima at = 0. The


variation of intensity distribution as a function of angle is shown in figure 25(a).
.M

12.4.1 Principal Maxima


Dr

Let us expand sin in equation (103), then


3 5 7 2 4 6
   
A0
R= + + . . . = A0 1 + + ... ,
3! 5! 7! 3! 5! 7!
which shows that R maximises to A0 for = 0 i.e., if
d sin
= = 0 or sin = 0 = 0. (105)

This means that for = 0 i.e, when the secondary wavelets travel normal to the
slit, it results in the principal maxima on the screen whose intensity is proportional
to the square of the amplitude i.e., I = Imax A20 .

Classnotes by Dr. Manamohan Prusty


12.4 Intensity distribution - Quantitative 50

12.4.2 Position of minimum intensity


From equation (104), we can see that the intensity will be minimum if sin = 0
but 6= 0 ( = 0 provides the condition for principal maxima). This leads to
= , 2 , 3 , . . . = n (where n = 1, 2, 3, . . .) . (106)
Since = d sin /, it leads to
d sin
= n d sin = n , (107)

where n = 1, 2, 3, . . .. Note that n = 0 leads to = 0, which is the position of
principal maxima. These positions of minima are in agreement with the values
obtain qualitatively. It shows that positions of minimum intensity are formed on
either side of the principal maxima.

12.4.3 Positions of secondary maxima

ty
es
Between any two consecutive minimas there is a secondary maxima. The condition

us
ot
for the secondary maxima can be obtained from the intensity distribution
2
Pr
sN


sin
I = I0 .

an
as

dI
Differentiation with respect to leads to = 0, at the position of minima and
d
oh
Cl

maxima. Differentiating the above equation we get


am

dI 2 sin ( cos sin )


= I0 . =0 (108)
d 2
an

This implies that either


.M

sin = 0 or cos sin = 0. (109)


The first condition sin = 0 provides the position of principal maxima for = 0
Dr

and the position of minimas with zero intensity for = n , where n = 1, 2, 3, . . ..


Therefore the second condition cos sin = 0 or tan = provides the
conditions for secondary maxima. The values of satisfying this equation are
obtained graphically by plotting the curves y = and y = tan on the same
graph. The points of intersection of the two curves provides the values of for
which it is a secondary maxima.
The graphical illustration of solutions for secondary maxima is shown in figure
25(b). It shows that the points of intersections for which the intensity is a maxima
are approximately given by
3 5
0, , ,... (110)
2 2
Classnotes by Dr. Manamohan Prusty
12.4 Intensity distribution - Quantitative 51

(a) Variation of Intensity,

y = Intensity, I()
sin2
I()
2


(b)
y=

y = tan

5 3 1 1 3 5

2 2 2 2 2 2

ty
es

us
ot

Pr
sN

Figure 25: (a) Variation of intensity in single slit diffraction pattern as a function
of . (b) Plots of y = and y = tan which determines the positions of secondary
an
as

maximas in single slit diffraction pattern.


oh
Cl

am

which are in good agreement with the qualitative analysis showing that the nth
order secondary maxima occur at positions n = (2 n + 1)/2. More exact values
an

of the solutions are


.M

= 0, 1.430 , 2.462 , 3.471 , etc. (111)

Note that = 0 is the condition for central maxima. Furthermore, it shows that
Dr

the secondary maxima do not fall exactly at the midway between two minima, but
they are displaced slightly towards the centre of the pattern. Now substituting
these values of into the expression of intensity distribution for the secondary
maxima provides

sin2 1.430
I1 = I0 = 0.0472 I0 ,
(1.430 )2
sin2 2.462
I2 = I0 = 0.0165 I0 ,
(2.462 )2
sin2 3.471
I3 = I0 = 0.0083 I0 , (112)
(3.471 )2

Classnotes by Dr. Manamohan Prusty


12.4 Intensity distribution - Quantitative 52

for intensities of the first, second and third order secondary maxima respectively.
Further we can see that the intensity of the first, second and third order maxima
are 4.72%, 1.65%, and 0.83% of the central maxima intensity respectively. It shows
that the intensities decreases rapidly and most of the incident light energy is con-
centrated at the principal maxima. Generally the secondary maxima are too faint
to be visible ordinarily.

12.4.4 Width of the principal maxima


screen
Let us assume that the distance of first order slit
minimum from the centre of the principal max-
imum be x (shown in figure 26), then the width
of the central maximum is W = 2 x. Now the
condition for the first order minima to occur at
x
an angle from the horizontal axis is
d

ty
 
D
es
1
d sin = = sin , (113)
d

us
ot

where d is the width of the slit. So, the an-


Pr
sN

gular width of the central maxima is 2 =


2 sin1 (/d). If the lens is very near to the
an
as

slit or the screen is far away from the lens and


D is the distance from the slit to the screen Figure 26: Determination of
oh
Cl

(usually its the focal length of the lens), then width of the central maxima for
tan = x/D. Since, is small tan sin . single slit diffraction pattern.
am

This gives
x D
an

= x= . (114)
D d d
Hence the linear width W of the central maximum is given by
.M

2D
W = 2x = . (115)
Dr

d
Note that when the slit width d >> we see, on the screen, uniform illumination in
the shape of the slit. As the slit width is reduced, the illumination starts to spread
out and dark bands become visible. Further, the width of the central maximum
increases as the slit gets narrower.
The position of the nth (n = 1, 2, 3, . . .) order secondary maxima on either side
of the central maxima is given by d sin n = (2 n+1) /2. Therefore, in these cases

xn (2 n + 1) (2 n + 1) D
= width W = 2 xn = . (116)
D 2d d

Classnotes by Dr. Manamohan Prusty


13 Fraunhoffer diffraction from a double slit 53

13 Fraunhoffer diffraction from a double slit


13.1 Arrangement
Consider two slits S1 = AB and S2 = CD of
equal widths d separated by a distance b. Thus,
the distance between the middle points of the
two slits is d + b. A monochromatic light of
wavelength is incident normally on the two
slits. Secondary wavelets are generated at the
two slits due to diffraction and they travel in all
directions. Further these secondary wavelets
superimpose and interference occurs. A col-
lecting lens collects this interference beam of
light and focuses onto the screen as shown in
figure 27. So, the diffraction due to two slits is
Figure 27: Arrangement for

ty
the result of combination of two parts (a) the
es
Fraunhoffer diffraction from a
diffraction pattern due to secondary wavelets

us
ot
double slit.
emanating from individual slits and (b) inter-
Pr
sN

ference phenomenon due to secondary wavelets generated from both the slits.
Thus, on the screen we obtain a diffraction pattern on which a system of interfer-
ence fringes are superposed. For calculation of positions of maxima and minima,
an
as

the angle is taken between the direction of the incident beam and the direction
oh
Cl

of secondary waves reaching the point P .


am

13.2 Diffraction maxima and minima


an

Individual slits provide a diffraction pattern which travels at an angle with


respect to the direction of incident beam. A line AN is drawn perpendicular to
.M

the direction of the diffracted ray BN P . In order to determine the diffraction


minima we determine the path different between the secondary waves generated
at point A and at point B which is BN = d sin . Now from the analysis of
Dr

single slit diffraction pattern we know that if d sin = n , (n = 1, 2, 3, . . .), then


provides the direction of diffraction minima. Similarly, for the same direction
of the secondary wavelets generated from the slit CD also provides zero intensity.
Thus in general if

d sin = n , n = 1, 2, 3, . . . (117)

provides the values of for which diffraction minima occurs. In between any
two minimas there will be diffraction minima. However, the nature of diffraction
maxima depends on the interference of the diffraction patterns emanating from
the individual slits.

Classnotes by Dr. Manamohan Prusty


13.3 Interference maxima and minima 54

13.3 Interference maxima and minima


In order to know the positions of interference maxima and minima, we draw a
line AM perpendicular to the direction of the secondary wavelet generated at
C travelling in the direction of CM P . The path difference between any two
corresponding wavefronts, generated from the two slits, travelling at an angle is
CM = (b + d) sin . From the analysis of interference we know that if this path
difference is an odd multiple of /2, then the direction provides a minima. This
means if
(2 n + 1)
CN = (b + d) sin = , (n = 1, 2, 3, . . .) (118)
2
then the corresponding angular values provides the direction of corresponding min-
ima.
On the other hand, if the secondary waves travel in a direction 0 for which
the path difference CM is even multiple of /2, then it provides the direction of
interference maxima. Thus if

ty
2n
es
CN = (b + d) sin 0 = = n , (n = 1, 2, 3, . . .) (119)

us
2
ot

then the corresponding values of 0 provides the directions of corresponding max-


Pr
sN

imas of the interference pattern.


Taking any two consecutive minimas, we find that the difference
an
as

(2 n + 3) (2 n + 1)
sin n+1 sin n n+1 n = = . (120)
oh
Cl

2 (b + d) 2 (b + d) b+d
am

Similarly for any two consecutive maximas

0 (n + 1) n
sin n+1 sin n0 n+1
0
n0 = = . (121)
an

(b + d) (b + d) b+d
.M

Thus, the angular seperation between any two consecutive minima (maxima) is
/(b + d), which shows that the angular separation is inversely proportional to the
central distance between the two slits.
Dr

The intensity distribution of the Fraunhoffer diffraction from two slits is shown
in figure 29(c). The shaded regions are the equally spaced interference maxima and
minima while the dotted curve is the curve due to diffraction only. We observe that,
the regions of diffraction maxima there are equally spaced interference maxima and
minima with decreasing intensity. In order to understand these let us determine
the intensity distribution of the double slit diffraction pattern mathematically.

13.4 Intensity distribution


By Huygens principle, light is incident normally on the slits AB and CD every
point on them sends secondary wavelets in all directions, i.e., light gets diffracted.

Classnotes by Dr. Manamohan Prusty


13.4 Intensity distribution 55

We know, from the diffraction of single slit, that the resultant amplitude R1 of the
diffracted wavelet travelling in a direction from the incident beam is
sin d sin
R1 = A0 , where = . (122)

These wavelets, from both the slits, travelling
in the direction interfere and meet at point
P to produce the double slit diffraction pattern. R R2
The path difference between these two diffracted
wavelets is CM = (d + b) sin . The correspond-
ing phase difference is R1
2 (d + b) sin
= . (123) Figure 28: Vector addition of
two vectors having amplitudes
To find the resultant amplitude at P we use vec- R1 , R2 and a phase difference

ty
tor addition in which the two sides of a triangle between them.
es
are represented by equal amplitudes R1 = R2 =

us
ot

A0 sin / with a phase angle between them (refer to figure 28). Using the law
Pr
sN

of vector addition

R2 = R12 + R22 + 2 R1 R2 cos


an
as

 2  2  2
sin sin sin
= A0 + A0 + 2 A0 cos
oh
Cl


sin2 2
2 sin
am

= 2 A20 (1 + cos ) = 2 A 0 2 cos2 (/2)


2 2
an

sin2 (d + b) sin
= 4 A20 2
cos2 , where = = . (124)
2
.M

So, the resultant intensity Id for the double slit Fraunhoffer diffraction becomes
Dr

sin2
Id = 4 I0 cos2 , (125)
2
where I0 is the peak intensity of the single slit diffraction pattern. We can observe
that this expression is the product of two factors

(a) I0 sin2 /2 represents the intensity distribution of the single slit diffraction
pattern, and

(b) 4 cos2 provides the interference pattern from double slit.

These distributions of the intensities are illustrated in figure 29.

Classnotes by Dr. Manamohan Prusty


13.4 Intensity distribution 56

(a) Pure diffraction pattern sin2

Intensity
Intensity I()
2

(b) Pure Interference pattern Intensity I 0 () cos2

(c) Combined effect - Double slit diffraction pattern


sin2
Intensity Id cos2
2

ty
es
2 1

us
0 1 2
ot

Pr
sN

Figure 29: (a) Intensity distribution of only the single slit diffraction pattern,
(b) Intensity distribution of only the double slit interference pattern and (c) Com-
an
bined effect of interference and diffraction providing the intensity distribution of
as

the Fraunhoffer double slit diffraction pattern. The envelope of the double slit
oh
Cl

diffraction pattern (red) is the single slit diffraction pattern.


am

13.4.1 Diffraction contribution


an

As discussed, the diffraction term sin2 /2 gives the position of central maxima at
.M

the centre of the screen with alternate minima and maxima of decreasing intensities
on either side of it. Since = d sin /, we know that for = 0 we obtain the
central maxima. For sin = 0 d sin = n with n = 1, 2, 3, . . . we obtain
Dr

minima. In between minima we have secondary maxima satisfying the condition


tan = i.e., approximately for (2 n + 1) /2 with n = 1, 2, 3, . . ..

13.4.2 Interference contribution


The interference term cos2 with = (d + b) sin / gives the equidistant bright
and dark fringes. The maxima will occur if cos2 = 1 i.e., for = n or
(d + b) sin = n with n = 0, 1, 2, . . . the interference fringes will be a maxima.
Similarly minima occurs if cos2 = 0 i.e., for = (2 n + 1) /2 or (d + b) sin =
(2 n + 1) /2 with n = 0, 1, 2, . . . the fringes are minima.

Classnotes by Dr. Manamohan Prusty


13.4 Intensity distribution 57

When both the diffraction and interference effects gets combined, we get the
resultant distribution of the double slit diffraction pattern as shown in figure 29.
It is found that the resultant intensities at the minima are not exactly equal to
zero due to interference effects. The resultant pattern contains the interference
spectrum within the envelope of the single slit diffraction pattern.

13.4.3 Missing orders (Absent spectras) in the resultant pattern


Depending on the relative values of the slit width d and the slit separation distance
b, certain orders of interference maxima will be missing in the resultant pattern.
This occurs because the interference maxima falls at the minima of of the single
slit diffraction. Since, the resultant amplitudes of these minima are zero, they
interfere constructively to provide only a minima in the resultant pattern. The
positions of diffraction minima occurs in the direction satisfying the condition

d sin = n , (126)

ty
es
and the positions of interference maxima occurring in the same direction satisfy

us
ot

(d + b) sin = m . (127)
Pr
sN

Taking the ratio of these equations, we get


an
as

d n d+b
= m= n. (128)
oh
Cl

d+b m d
am

This is the condition for the mth order maxima to be missing in the double slit
diffraction pattern. Now consider certain cases
an

Case 1: when d = b
.M

If d = b then m = 2 n. So for n = 1, 2, 3, . . . we have m = 2, 4, 6, . . ..


It shows that if the slit width d and slit separation distance b are of equal
Dr

length then 2, 4, 6, . . . orders of interference maxima will be missing in


the resultant pattern.

Case 2: when d = 2 b

If d = b then m = 3 n. So for n = 1, 2, 3, . . . we have m = 3, 6, 9, . . ..


Thus, if the slit separation distance become twice the slit width then 3, 6, 9, . . .
orders of interference maxima will be absent in the resultant pattern.

Classnotes by Dr. Manamohan Prusty


14 Difference between Interference and Diffraction 58

Case 3: when d + b = d

When d + b = d then the slit separation b = 0. In this case m = n. Thus


for all n values of diffraction all m values of interference will be absent. So,
when two slits join i.e., when b = 0, then all of the interference maxima will
be missing in the resultant intensity pattern. Therefore, the pattern on the
screen will be only due to diffraction alone.

14 Difference between Interference and Diffraction


Equipped with the above understandings of interference and diffraction, we elabo-
rate the main points of difference between interference and diffraction in table (1).

Table 1: Differences between Interference and Diffraction.

ty
es
Sl. No. Interference Diffraction

us
ot

1. Interference is the result of interaction Diffraction is the result of interaction of


Pr
sN

of light waves coming from two different light waves coming from different parts
coherent sources. of the same wave front.
an
2. Interference fringes may or may not be The diffraction fringes are never of same
as

of same width. width.


oh
Cl

3. In interference fringes, the regions of In diffraction regions of minimum inten-


minimum intensity are perfectly dark. sity are not perfectly dark.
am

4. In interference all bright bands are of In diffraction, different maximas are of


same intensity. varying intensity with maximum inten-
sity for the central maximum.
an

5 The maxima occur when the path dif- The minima occurs at path difference of
ferences between the two waves is n n and the maxima at the path differ-
.M

and the minima at path differences of ence of (2n + 1) /2 between the waves
(2n + 1) /2. from the ends of the slit.
Dr

15 Diffraction due to N-slits


Let us consider N parallel slits, each of width d placed in a plane with the distance b
between any two adjacent slits. Thus the separation distance between consecutive
points between any two consecutive slits is a = d + b. Such a device consisting
of a large number of parallel slits of same width separated from one another by
equal spaces is called a diffraction grating. The distance a is called the grating
period.

Classnotes by Dr. Manamohan Prusty


15.1 Intensity distribution 59

15.1 Intensity distribution


As before we assume that, a plane wavefront
of monochromatic light having wavelength
is incident normally on the N-slits of the
grating as shown in figure 30. Each point
on the N slits sends secondary wavelets in
all directions and hence they superpose, by
focusing hem using a convex lens, to show
bright and dark regions on the screen. This
pattern obtained on the screen is known as
N-slit diffraction spectrum. All the light
rays which travel in the same direction of
the incident beam are in phase. So when
they meet at point O on the screen, it pro-
duces the central maxima.

ty
Now let us consider the secondary waves
es
travelling in a direction which makes an an- Figure 30: Fraunhoffer diffraction of

us
ot
gle with respect to the incident beam. The a plane wave incident normally on a
secondary waves originating from each point multiple slit.
Pr
sN

on the slit travel different distances and su-


perpose at the point P on the screen. The nature of intensity at P will depend on
an
as

the path difference bettween secondary waves generated from the corresponding
oh
Cl

points of two neighbouring slits. The path difference between any two correspond-
ing points of two neighbouring slits is (d + b) sin = a sin . Corresponding phase
am

difference is = 2 a sin /. If the path difference is an integral multiple of


the wavelength then the point P will be of maximum intensity. This means the
an

condition for obtaining a maxima in the direction is


.M

a sin = n . (129)

Between any two consecutive maxima there will be a minima on the screen. Thus
Dr

the point at P will be a minima if the path difference satisfies the condition

a sin = (2 n + 1) /2 . (130)

In order to determine the intensity quantitatively the nature of intensity, we


know that there is superposition of N diffracted beams (from N -slits) each of
amplitude A = A0 sin / (with = d sin /) interfering each other at an
angle at point P on the screen. As discussed above the phase difference between
any two successive waves is = 2 (d + b) sin /. The resultant amplitude at
point P is determined using the principle of superposition to be

R = A cos w t+A cos[w t+]+A cos[w t+2 ]+. . .+A cos[w t+(N 1) ]. (131)

Classnotes by Dr. Manamohan Prusty


15.1 Intensity distribution 60

Expressing the amplitude terms as real parts of a complex number, we can write
the resultant complex amplitude in terms of the sum of a geometric series
1 eiN
R = A ei w t 1 + ei + ei2 + ei3 + . . . + ei(N 1) = A ei w t
 
. (132)
1 ei
To obtain the intensity we multiply this with its complex conjugate, giving
(1 eiN )(1 eiN ) 1 cos N
I = R2 = A2 i i
= A2
(1 e )(1 e ) 1 cos
2
 2  2 
2 sin (N /2) sin sin N
= A = I0 , (133)
sin2 (/2) 2 sin2
where, as in the double slit, I0 = A20 , = /2 = (d + b) sin / and =
d sin /. We can observe, upon substitution of N = 2 in this formula, that it
readily reduces to the intensity distribution of the double slit.

ty
The expression for the intensity distribution consist of two terms
es
(a) The first term I0 sin2 /2 is the intensity distribution of a single slit diffrac-

us
ot

tion. So, this term is due to the contribution of diffraction occurring at each
Pr
sN

slit.

(b) The second term sin2 N / sin2 is the distribution of intensity due to inter-
an
as

ference of secondary wavelets generated from N equally spaced point sources.


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Cl

15.1.1 Principal Maxima


am

We note that for sin = 0 i.e., when = n(n = 0, 1, 2, 3, . . . ), we have sin N


also becomes zero. Hence the second term becomes indeterminate. However, using
an

LHospital rule, we can get


.M

sin N
lim = N, (134)
m sin
Dr

providing the contribution from the second term equal to N 2 . Now


(d + b) sin
= = n (d + b) sin = n . (135)

This equation is known as the grating equation. The resultant intensity at these
points is given by
sin2
I = I02 N 2 , (136)
2
where   
d sin d n nd
= = = . (137)
(d + b) d+b

Classnotes by Dr. Manamohan Prusty


15.1 Intensity distribution 61

Such maxima are called as principal maxima. Physically, at these maxima the
fields produced by each of the slits are in phase, and therefore, they add providing
the resultant field to be N times the field produced by each of the slits. For n = 0
we have = 0. In this direction we get the zero order principal maxima. If we
substitute n = 1, 2, 3 . . . then we obtain the first, second, third, . . . order principal
maxima respectively.

15.1.2 Minima and Secondary maxima


From equation (133), we can easily see that the intensity is zero when either

sin = 0 d sin = n (n = 1, 2, 3, . . .) (138)

which corresponds to the minima of the single slit diffraction pattern or when

(d + b) sin
sin N = 0 N = N = m

ty
es
N (d + b) sin = m . (139)

us
ot

Here m can take all integer values except 0, N, 2N, 3N, . . .. This is because these
Pr
sN

values corresponds to the positions of principal maxima. The angle of diffraction


corresponding to the later minima satisfy the equation
an
as

2 (N 1) (N + 1)
(d + b) sin = , ,..., , ,
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Cl

N N N N
(N + 2) (2N 1) (2N + 1)
am

,..., , ,..., (140)


N N N
an

while the principal maxima satisfy the equation


N 2N 3N
.M

(d + b) sin = 0, , , ,.... (141)


N N N
Thus between any two principal maxima we have N 1 minima. Between any
Dr

two such consecutive minima, the intensity has to be maximum. These maxima
are called as secondary maxima. As the number of slits become very large,
the intensity of the secondary maxima diminishes and therefore are not visible
in the grating spectra. As there are N 1 minima between adjacent principal
maxima, there must be N 2 secondary maxima between two principal maxima.
The positions of the secondary maxima are given by

(2 m + 1) (2 m + 1)
N = or N (d + b) sin = . (142)
2 2

Classnotes by Dr. Manamohan Prusty


15.1 Intensity distribution 62

15.1.3 Missing orders


A particular principal maximum may be absent if it corresponds to the angle which
also determines the minimum of the single-slit diffraction pattern. This is usually
referred to as a missing order in the diffraction spectrum. This will happen when

d sin = n and (d + b) sin = m (143)


are satisfied simultaneously. Dividing these two equations, we obtain
d n d+b
= m= n. (144)
d+b m d
The above equation is the condition for the mth order principal maxima to be
absent in the N slit diffraction pattern. For more details on this refer to section
13.4.3.

ty
15.1.4 Highest possible order
es

us
Since | sin | 1 we can observe from equation (135) that n cannot be greater
ot

than (d + b)/. Thus, there will only be a finite number of principal maxima in
Pr
sN

the N -slit diffraction pattern. It implies that


d+b 1
an
as

nmax = . (145)
N
oh
Cl

where N = 1/(d + b) is the number of lines ruled per unit width of the grating.
am

15.1.5 Width of the Principal Maxima


an

We have seen that in the diffraction pattern produced by N slits, the mth -order
principal maximum occurs at
.M

(d + b) sin m = a sin m = m m = 1, 2, 3, . . . . (146)


Dr

.Further the minima occurs at the angles given by the equation (140). Thus, if
m + 1m and m 2m are the angles of diffraction corresponding to the first
minimum on either side of the mth order principal maximum, then the angular
halfwidth of the mth order principal maximum is given by
1
4m = (1m + 2m ) (147)
2
For a larger value of N we have 1m 2m = 4m . Clearly

a sin (m + 4m ) = m . (148)
N

Classnotes by Dr. Manamohan Prusty


15.2 Diffraction grating 63

But

sin (m 4m ) = sin m cos 4m cos m sin 4m


sin m 4m cos m
m m
4m cos m
a aN a

4m = . (149)
a N cos m (d + b) N cos m

The above equation shows that the angular width of the principal maxima de-
creases with increase in N i.e., as the number of slits increases the principal max-
ima become sharper.

15.2 Diffraction grating

ty
es
As already mentioned in the previous section, an arrangement consisting of a large

us
number of equidistant slits is known as a diffraction grating and the correspond-
ot

ing diffraction pattern is known as the grating spectrum.


Pr
sN

Fraunhoffer in 1821, first invented the grating by winding a fine wire round
two screws placed in parallel. These gratings had from 40 to 340 lines per inch.
an
Using these Fraunhoffer managed to measure the wavelength of the sodium D-line.
as

Later he started to rule the lines on a thin gold film deposited on a glass plate.
oh
Cl

Finally he mastered ruling the lines on a glass surface using diamond as a ruling
point. The best grating manufactured by him was half an inch wide and had an
am

interval of 3m i.e., 8000 lines per inch grating. Now a days gratings are prepared
by ruling equidistant parallel lines on a glass surface with a fine diamond tip. The
an

ruled lines scatter light and are effectively opaque to light while the space between
any two lines is transparent and acts as slit. R. W. Wood showed that pyrex glass
.M

is suitable for grating.


Since the exact positions of the principal maxima in the diffraction pattern de-
pend on the wavelength, the principal maxima corresponding to different spectral
Dr

lines will correspond to different angles of diffraction. Thus the grating spec-
trum provides us with an easily obtainable experimental setup for determination
of wavelengths. We also know that for narrow principal maxima i.e., sharper spec-
tral lines, a large value of N is required. A good-quality grating, therefore, requires
a large number of slits (typically about 15,000 per inch). This is achieved by rul-
ing grooves with a diamond point on an optically transparent sheet of material;
the grooves act as opaque spaces. After each groove is ruled, the machine lifts
the diamond point and moves the sheet forward for the ruling of the next groove.
Since the distance between two consecutive grooves is extremely small, the move-
ment of the sheet is obtained with the help of the rotation of a screw which drives

Classnotes by Dr. Manamohan Prusty


15.2 Diffraction grating 64

the carriage carrying it. Further, one of the important requirements of a good-
quality grating is that the lines be as equally spaced as possible; consequently, the
pitch of the screw must be constant, and it was not until the manufacture of a
nearly perfect screw (which was achieved by Rowland in 1882) that the problem
of construction of gratings was successfully solved.
Because of the expenses involved in preparation of a grating, commercial grat-
ings are produced by pouring in cellulose acetate on the ruled surface of the origi-
nal grating and the solution is allowed to harden to form a strong thin film. This
replica grating is then detached from the parent grating and mounted between
two grass plated to form a plane transmission grating. However, if the cellulose
acetate dried film is placed on a plane silvered surface, the grating formed is called
a reflection grating. Usually the number of lines on such a grating can range
from 12000 lines per inch to 30000 lines per inch.

15.2.1 The Grating spectrum

ty
The direction in which principal maxima occurs in a grating is given by the grating
es
equation

us
ot
n
sin = = n N , (n = 0, 1, 2, 3, . . .) (150)
Pr
sN

d+b
where N = 1/(d + b) is the number of lines ruled per unit width of the grating.
an
The length (d + b) is called the grating element. [Note : If N is the number of
as

lined per inch on the grating then N (b + d) = 1 inch = 2.54 cm. Accordingly the
oh
Cl

value of N will be N = 2.54/(b + d).] The above equation can be used to study
the dependence of the angle of diffraction on the wavelength . For n = 0, we get
am

zeroth order principal maxima which occurs at = 0 irrespective of the wavelength


of the light used. Thus for a polychromatic (white) source of light the zeroth order
an

central maxima is of the same color as the source itself. However, for n 6= 0,
the angles of diffraction are different for different wavelengths, so various spectral
.M

lines appear at different positions. Hence by measuring the angles of diffraction for
various colors one can calculate the values of the wavelengths by knowing the order
of the spectrum. Differentiating the grating equation with respect to wavelength
Dr

we have
d nN
= . (151)
d cos
If is very small, we can assume that cos 1, so d n for a given d. It shows
that for a given m, the ratio d/d is just a constant value. Such a spectrum is
known as a normal spectrum. In this the difference in angle for two spectral
lines is directly proportional to the difference in wavelengths. Also since d N ,
therefore if the number of lines per width of the grating is large then the angular
dispersion of the grating spectra will also be large.

Classnotes by Dr. Manamohan Prusty


15.2 Diffraction grating 65

15.2.2 Dtermination of wavelength


The wavelength of a spectral line can be determined by using the grating equation
given in equation (150). Assuming that N is the number of lines ruled on grating
per inch, the grating equation gives
nN 2.54 sin
sin = = cm. (152)
2.54 nN

15.2.3 Properties of Grating spectra


The following points have to be noted down regarding the grating spectra

1. Maxima appears as sharp, bright parallel lines and is termed as spectral line.

2. The wavelength of a spectral line can be determined using the grating equa-
tion (152).

ty
3. For a particular wavelength , the angle of diffraction is different for prin-
es
cipal maxima of different orders.

us
ot

Pr
4. For any polychromatic light, at the centre i.e., at = 0 all the wavelengths
sN

provide their zeroth order maximum and hence the zeroth order maximum
is of the same color as the source color.
an
as

5. For a polychromatic source and for a particular order of n, the light of


oh
Cl

different wavelengths will be diffracted in different directions.


am

6. The longer the wavelength the greater is the angle of diffraction.

7. Most of the intensity is concentrated at the zeroth order and the rest is
an

distributed among the other orders.


.M

8. Spectra of different orders are situated symmetrically on both sides of the


zeroth order principal maxima.
Dr

9. The maximum number of orders of spectrum formed with a grating is nmax


(d + b)/ = 2.54/(N ), where N is the number of lines ruled per inch on
the diffraction grating.

10. There can be missing orders of principal maxima in a grating spectra. It


depends on the values of slit width d and the separation distance between
them b. Details are given in section (13.4.3).

Classnotes by Dr. Manamohan Prusty


15.3 Resolving Power 66

15.2.4 Dispersive power of a grating


Let us assume that the incident light source has two wavelengths very close to each
other. Then the dispersive power of a grating is defined as the ratio of difference
in the angle of diffraction any of these neighbouring spectral lines to the difference
in wavelength of these two spectral lines. Thus it is equal to the difference in the
angle of diffraction per unit change in wavelength. From equation (151), we know
that
d nN
= , (153)
d cos
where N is the number of lines ruled per unit width of the grating. This is the
equation for the dispersive power of a grating. From this equation it is clear that
The dispersive power of a grating is

directly proportional to the order of the spectrum, n,

directly proportional to the number of lines ruled per unit width of the

ty
es
grating, N ,

us
ot
inversely proportional to cos .

Pr
sN

If the diffraction angle is very small then cos 1. So for small diffraction angle
the third factor can be neglected. Then it is clear that d d. A spectrum of
an
as

this type is called as a normal spectrum.


If the linear spacing of two spectral lines close together is dx in the focal plane
oh
Cl

of the objective of the telescope, then dx = f d, where f is the focal length of the
objective. Using this we can determine the linear dispersion dx/d as
am

dx d f nN
= f =
an

d d cos
f nN
.M

dx = d. (154)
cos
This linear dispersion is used to study photographs of a spectrum.
Dr

15.3 Resolving Power


Our eyes are able to distinguish two objects if they are either not too close or not
too far from the eye. When these two objects are very close together, they appear
as one object and we say that they are not resolved by our eye. Optical instruments
such as telescope or microscope are used to assist the eye in resolving these objects.
The ability of these instruments to produce distinctly separate images of two very
close objects is called as the resolving power of the instrument. It is defined
as the reciprocal of the smallest angle subtended at the objective by two point
objects, which can just be distinguished as separate.

Classnotes by Dr. Manamohan Prusty


15.3 Resolving Power 67

Figure 31: (b) Schematic representation of Rayleighs criterion for the resolving
power of a grating. Note the separation of maxima in (a) and close overlapping of
the spectrum in (c).

The image of a point object formed by an optical instrument is actually a


diffraction. So, if there are two point objects placed close to each other, then
two diffraction patterns are produced. These two patterns may overlap in which
case it will be difficult to distinguish them as separate objects. Thus, any optical
instrument is said to be able to resolve two point objects if the corresponding

ty
diffraction patterns can be distinguished from each other. To measure the resolving
es
power of an instrument Rayleigh proposed that, two point objects lying close

us
ot

together are resolvable by an optical instrument if the central maximum of the


Pr
sN

diffraction pattern of one of them falls on the first minimum of the diffraction
pattern of the other. This is called as the Rayleigh criterion for the resolution
and is also known as Rayleighs limit of resolution.
an
as

oh
Cl

15.3.1 Resolving power of a grating


am

The ability of a grating to form two separate diffraction maxima for two very
close wavelengths, thereby resolving them, is called the resolving power of the
grating. Using Rayleighs criterion we can say that, two spectral lines formed in
an

a grating, are resolvable if the central maxima of the diffraction pattern of one of
.M

the wavelengths falls over the first minimum due to the other wavelength, or vice
versa as shown in in figure 31(b).
In order to determine the resolving power of a grating, let us assume that
Dr

and + d are the wavelengths of the two coherent sources. Then the resolving
power Rp of the grating is given by /d. In order to detrmine this, we know that
the nth order principal maxima of the wavelength in the direction n satisfies

(d + b) sin n = n , (155)

while the minimas are obtained in the direction , for the condition

N (d + b) sin = m (m 6= 0, N, 2N, . . .). (156)

As there are N 1 minima in between two adjacent principal maxima, the first
minimum adjacent to the nth order principal maxima in the direction n + dn

Classnotes by Dr. Manamohan Prusty


15.3 Resolving Power 68

occurs for
N (d + b) sin (n + dn ) = (nN + 1) . (157)
If this direction corresponds to the principal maxima of the other wavelength
+ d, then

(d + b) sin (n + dn ) = n ( + d)
N (d + b) sin (n + dn ) = N n ( + d). (158)

Now applying Rayleigh criterion to the equations (157) and (158), we have

(n N + 1) = n N, ( + d) = n N d. (159)

This leads to the resolving power, Rp of the grating to be


Rp = = n N. (160)
d

ty
es
This shows that the resolving power of the grating depends on the number of lines

us
ot
ruled per unit length N on the grating and the order of the diffraction pattern n.

Pr
sN

an
as

oh
Cl

am
an
.M
Dr

Classnotes by Dr. Manamohan Prusty