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Fabiana Guedez

TITLE: Refraction of light

AIM: To investigate the relationship between the angle of incidence and the
corresponding angles of refraction of glass

THEORY: Refraction is the change in direction of any wave as a result of the

wave going through changes in speed as it enters a different medium. It is
also referred to as the bending of light


The angle of refraction is measured from the reflected ray to the surface
normal. The angle of incidence is measured between the ray and a line
normal to the surface that intersects the surface at the same point as the

APPARATUS: glass block, ruler, 4 optical pins, paper, protractor, tacks,

optical board, pencil



METHOD: 1. The paper was tacked onto the optical board and the glass
block was placed in the center of the sheet of paper. The outline of the
block was drawn using a pencil.
2. Using a protractor, a normal was drawn in the middle of the long side of
the block. The intersection of the normal and the glass block was labeled O.
3. The protractor was used to measure out and draw angles of incidence of
10 ° to 60° and the lines were extended to the edge of the paper
4. On the 10° line, two pins were placed upright and labeled A and B. A was
as close as possible to the block while B was closest to the edge of the
5. Looking through the glass block at images A and B, the subject’s head
positioned their sight so that the image of B is directly behind the image of
A. Another pin, C, was placed near the black, in line with images A and B.
6. A fourth pin, D, was placed close to the edge of he page so that it was in
line with the C and the images of A and B.
7. The pins were removed and an X was placed over the holes of the pins C
and D, which have been correctly aligned. The block was also removed.
8. A line was drawn through the pinholes and extended back to the glass
(point R). This represents the emerging ray.
9. Point O and R were connected to show the refracted ray. Arrows were
drawn on the rays to indicate direction they moved in and the protractor
was used to measure the angle of refraction, r, and the angle of incidence,
10. The procedure was repeated for all of the incidence angles drawn.


Angle of Angle of Sin i (°) Sin r (°)

incidence (°) refraction (°)
10.0 7.0 0.174 0.122
20.0 13.0 0.342 0.225
30.0 18.0 0.500 0.309
40.0 23.0 0.643 0.391
50.0 29.0 0.766 0.485
60.0 34.0 0.866 0.559
Calculation example:
Sin (10) = 0.174
N = sin i/ sin r

Discussion: Refraction is the bending of light. The observations show that

light was refracted because the angles of incidence were greater than the
angles of refraction. Also, the angles of refraction did not go above 90
degrees, showing that no total internal reflection occurred. The graph
shows proportionality as it is in a straight line. Using the graph, the angle of
incidence for which the angle of refraction is 25 degrees is 22 degrees.
The gradient of a straight line can be found with the equation y2 – y1/ x2 –x1
The gradient of the graph = 0.62 – 0.30/ 0.40 – 0.20
= 1.6
The Dutch astronomer and mathematician Willebrord Snell discovered the
law of refraction, also known as Snell’s law, in 1621. This law states that the
ratio of the sines of the angles of incidence and refraction of a wave are
constant when it passes between two given media. The gradient of the
graph is the refractive index.
The refractive index of glass was found to be approximately 1.5

Calculation examples:
N = sin i/ sin r
N = 0.342 / 0.225
N = 0.500/ 0.309
N = 0.643/ 0.391

Given that n = 1/sin c, where c is the critical angle of glass, the value for this
angle was found to be 41.810 degrees

Precautions: The block was placed directly on its outline. Tacks were used
to keep the paper in place. The angles were measured with a protractor
several times to ensure accuracy.

Conclusion: The relationship between the angle of incidence and the

corresponding angles of refraction of glass was investigated.