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Refraction is a phenomenon that often occurs when waves travel from a medium with a
given refractive index to a medium with another at an oblique angle. It is the change in direction of wave
propagation due to a change in its transmission medium.

The straw appears to be broken because of the

difference between the angle at which light from it
strikes the vertical edge of the glass versus the
horizontal surface of the water.

In optics, the refractive index or index of refraction of a material is a dimensionless

number that describes how light propagates through that medium. It is defined as
where c is the speed of light in vacuum and v is the phase velocity of light in the medium. For
example, the refractive index of water is 1.333, meaning that light travels 1.333 times faster in vacuum
than in the water.

Polarization is a property of waves that describes the orientation of their oscillations. The oscillations
may be oriented in a single direction (linear polarization), or the oscillation direction may rotate as the
wave travels (circular or elliptical polarization)

Types of Polarization

Circular Polarization

 Circularly polarized waves can rotate

rightward or leftward in the direction of
travel, and which of those two rotations is
present in a wave is called the wave's chirality.

Linear Polarization

 A plane electromagnetic wave is said to be linearly polarized.

The transverse electric field wave is accompanied
by a magnetic field wave as illustrated.
Elliptical Polarization

 Elliptically polarized light consists of two perpendicular waves of

unequal amplitude which differ in phase by 90.

*Application of Polarization: 3D movies, glare reducing sunglass, polaroid filters

Reflection is the change in direction of a wavefront at an interface between two
different media so that the wavefront returns into the medium from which it originated.

Reflection of light is either specular or diffuse depending on the nature of the interface.

Specular Reflection
-also known as regular reflection, is the mirror-like reflection of waves , such as light, from a
surface. For each incident ray the angle of incidence equals the angle of reflection, and the incident,
normal, and reflected directions are coplanar.

Diffuse Reflection
-is the reflection of light or other waves from a surface that a ray incident on the
surface is scattered at many angles rather than just one angle as in the case of specular
Light absorption is a process by which
light is absorbed and converted into
energy. It depends on the electromagnetic
frequency of the light and object’s nature of
atoms. Absorption of light is therefore
directly proportional to the frequency. If they
are complementary, light is absorbed. If they
are not complementary, then the light passes
through the object or gets reflected. These
processes usually occur at the same time
because light is usually transmitted at various

Photoluminescence (abbreviated as PL) is light emission from any form of matter after
the absorption of photons. Light is directed onto a sample, where it is absorbed and where a process
called photo-excitation can occur. The photo-excitation causes the material to jump to a higher electronic
state, and will then release energy, (photons) as it relaxes and returns to back to a lower energy level.

Typical Applications of Photoluminescence

■ Band Gap Determination

■ Impurity Levels and Defect Detection

■ Recombination Mechanisms

■ Material Quality

Transmittance of the surface of a material is its effectiveness in transmitting radiant energy. It is
the fraction of incident electromagnetic power that is transmitted through a sample, in contrast to
the transmission coefficient, which is the ratio of the transmitted to incident electric field.

When light moves through a transparent

(or semi-transparent) material, it can be
transmitted, absorbed, or reflected.
The transmittance of a material is the proportion
of the incident (approaching) light that moves all
the way through to the other side.
Diffraction is the slight bending of light as it passes around the edge of an object. The amount of
bending depends on the relative size of the wavelength of light to the size of the opening. If the opening
is much larger than the light's wavelength, the bending will be almost unnoticeable. However, if the two
are closer in size or equal, the amount of bending is considerable, and easily seen with the naked eye.

Types of diffraction

■ Fraunhofer diffraction

-the diffraction pattern is independent of the distance to the screen, depending only on the angles
to the screen from the aperture.

■ Fresnel diffraction

-it occurs when either the distance from the source to the obstruction or the distance from the
obstruction to the screen is comparable to the size of the obstruction. These comparable
distances and sizes lead to unique diffractive behavior.

Difference between fresnel and fraunhofer diffraction:

■ Fraunhofer Diffraction

1. Source and the screen are far away from each other.

2. Incident wave fronts on the diffracting obstacle are plane.

3. Diffraction obstacle give rise to wave fronts which are also plane.

4. Plane diffracting wave fronts are converged by means of a convex lens to produce diffraction

■ Fresnel Diffraction

1. Source and screen are not far away from each other.

2. Incident wave fronts are spherical.

3. Wave fronts leaving the obstacles are also spherical.

4. Convex lens is not needed to converge the spherical wave fronts.

Dispersion is the phenomenon in which the phase velocity of a wave depends on its
frequency. Media having this common property may be termed dispersive media. Sometimes the term
chromatic dispersion is used for specificity.

The most familiar example of dispersion taking place is probably a rainbow, in which dispersion
causes the spatial separation of a white light into components of different wavelengths.
Scattering is a general physical process where some forms of radiation, such as light,
sound, or moving particles, are forced to deviate from a straight trajectory by one or more paths due to
localized non-uniformities in the medium through which they pass.

Scattering theory is a framework for studying and understanding the scattering

of waves and particles. Prosaically, wave scattering corresponds to the collision and scattering of a wave
with some material object, for instance sunlight scattered by raindrops to form a rainbow.

Ex. Zodiacal light is a faint, diffuse glow visible in the night sky. The phenomenon stems from
the scattering of sunlightt by interplanetary dust spread throughout the plane of the Solar System.