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PHYSICS IN LIFE SCIENCE

Wave diffraction, interference and refraction

Key concepts
•Diffraction and its dependence on obstacle size.
•Constructive and destructive interference. •Light speed in vacuum and refractive index. •Snell’s law of refraction.

•Myopia and hyperopia and how to correct them.

Reminder: Wave phenomena

• A mechanical wave is the spreading of vibration in a medium.

The wave equation v = l/T = lf • Wave speed = wavelength / period = wavelength × frequency • All forms of wave obey this relationship. .

Special wave phenomena • Diffraction: when wave meets an obstacle. the direction of propagation may change. the total vibration is enhanced at some points but diminished at some other points. • Refraction: when wave goes from one medium into another medium. • Interference: when a wave meets another wave. . it can move around it.

•Wave can bend into the “shadow region” and reach places where the wave source is not directly visible. . •Classical particles like bullets leave straight shadows.e du/primer/java/particleor wave/diffraction/ for the particle-wave simulation.fsu.magnet.Difference between particle motion and wave motion Visit http://micro.

Diffraction: when wave meets an obstacle • Part of the wave will be reflected by the obstacle – echo. Waves rejoining after moving around . spreading to points behind the obstacle – diffraction. • Part of the wave will move around the obstacle.

. i. diffraction is much less obvious. diffraction is significant.Wavelength and size of obstacle If the obstacle is much smaller than the wavelength...e. small obstacles cannot block a wave.e. •If the obstacle is much larger than the wavelength. large obstacles can leave an obvious shadow region behind it. i.

Diffraction through an aperture When the obstacle is big but has a small hole on it. a wave can move around it through the hole – still it is the phenomenon of diffraction. .

Wavelength and aperture size wavelength – distance between wavefronts •If the aperture is much larger than the wavelength. diffraction is significant. diffraction is not obvious. . •If the aperture is much smaller than the wavelength.

Water wave diffracts through a narrow opening. .Examples of diffraction You can still hear sound from the other side of the wall.

.What happens when waves meet? •Two wave pulses are travelling on a string. They pass through as if the other one does not exist. •Principle of superposition: the total waveform at any moment is simply the summation of two waveforms.

Watch video “wave interference on slinky”. they can cancel each other or enhance each other: (a) destructive interference (b) constructive interference.Interference When two waves add up. .

Partial interference •For stable interference. . two waves must have the same l and f.Interference of 1-D waves Peak meets peak. Valley meets valley. Destructive interference Peaks and valleys don’t meet. Constructive interference Peak meets valley. Valley meets peak.

Interference pattern of two spherical waves .Interference of wave in 2D or 3D medium Some points have constructive interference. Some points have destructive interference.

.Double-slit Interference Peak meets peak (constructive) Peak meets valley (destructive) •The two slits are two wave sources with the same f. •The interference pattern shows alternating regions of constructive and destructive interference.

Double-slit Interference of light what you see on a screen after the slits • Constructive or destructive interference happens at certain angles. . • Light seems to be split into multiple beams.

Double slit experiment Lasers are very good monochromatic (single frequency) sources and are commonly used for double slit experiments .

This is refraction. the direction of the wave often changes at the interface. .Refraction of wave When a wave goes from one medium into another.

However. •Faster v → longer wavelength or larger distance between wave fronts. •Refraction happens because wave speed is changed.Refraction of water wave •Reflection and Transmission of Waves •Refraction •Diffraction •Water waves travel faster on the surface of deep water than they do on shallow water. . This leads to a “tilted” wave front in shallow water. the wave front at the interface needs to be continuous.

• Refraction will happen when light goes from one medium into another medium of different n. – In a medium l= v/f = l0/n. n>1 is the refractive index of material. • Larger n  slower speed and shorter wavelength. • Wavelength: – In vacuum l0 = c/f.Light speed in a medium and refractive index • Speed of light: – In vacuum c=3×108 m/s. – In a medium v=c/n. .

Snell’s Law of Refraction n1 q1 q1 q2 n2 q1: angle of incidence (or reflection) q2: angle of refraction Snell’s law: n2 sin θ2 = n1 sin θ1 Note: all angles are between the light beam and the normal direction! .

.Example From air to water q1 n1=1.00 From oil to water q1 n1=1.51 n2=1.33 q2 q1<q2 q1>q2 Conclusion: light rays always bend towards the medium with higher index.33 q2 n2=1.

Refraction changes the direction of light. .Refraction of light Light speed is slower in a medium than in air: c/v = n (refractive index)>1. making things in water look shallower.

The problem of a fisherman Fishes in water are merely images of refraction. Where should a fisherman aim? .

.Refraction of curved surfaces – lens With curved surfaces. lenses can converge or diverge light rays.

•Concave lens is thinner in the middle. •It focuses light. .Convex and concave lens •Convex lens is thicker in the middle. •It defocuses light.

• The image can be magnified or reduced.Image projection by a convex lens • Light from different points of a far object is focused onto different points on the other side – an image is formed. . depending on the distance between the object and the lens. • It projects an object into an inverted image.

the lens need to have a shorter focus. •To see a closer object clearly. .Lens in human eye •The focus of lens is adjusted by the surrounding muscles.

.Image projection in our eyes An inverted reduced image of external objects is formed on the retina.

Focusing problems of an eye Refraction by the eye in (A) emmetropia. . (B) hyperopia (farsightedness). and (C) myopia (nearsightedness).

. enhance focusing.Correcting myopia and hyperopia Nearsightedness: eyes Farsightedness: eyes focusing focusing too tight  use too loose  use convex lens to concave lens to relax focusing.

Next • Nature of light. .