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As a ray of light passes from air into a block of glass, the direction in which it is travelling is changed. The path is bent. The amount of bending that takes place depends on the nature of the glass and the wavelength of the light being used. In all these investigations the yellow light emitted by sodium ions is used. It has a wavelength of 589 nanometers. Tools of the Trade Brother Gregory's refractometer is very simple. He has provided you with many different samples of glass blocks; the same types of glass used to make the microscope lenses. He has also given you two lights; a blue, reference, light which shines straight through the glass block and shows you the position of the "normal". The second, yellow sodium light (589 nm), is the source of the light used to make the measurements. It is this light that shines at an angle to the surface ot the block of glass, and whose path is bent, allowing you to find the refractive index of the glass sample.

that is used to find where the yellow light leaves the glass block. Taking a Measurement Use the illustrations below. Taking a Measurement O ne T wo Th ree Fo ur Fi ve Si x Se ven Ei . and determining the refractive index of the glass. (Move your cursor over the "buttons" on the left).He has also provided you with a light detector. to step through the procedure necessary for measuring the angles in the refractometer.

one of the three angles is at exactly 90 degrees (a "right angle"). to the distance along the hypotenuse. and use it to record your results.ght Ni ne Te n El even Recording the results For each measurement. In a right angle triangle. Calculations Triangles All the calculations necessary for finding the refractive index of a piece of glass depend on the geometric properties of a right angle triangle. two for the source light and two for the image.from Mendel's Mother Print out this special "Results Table". The other two angles in the triangle are both less than 90 degrees. record four values. . The side of the triangle opposite the right angle is called the "hypotenuse". Source Light Settings Distance from reference light Distance from glass Image Output Results Thickness of glass Image distance from reference light Your results go here Your results go here Your results go here Your results go here HELP . A mathematical quantity called the "Sine" of an angle (in a right angle triangle) is a simple ratio of the distance along the side of the triangle opposite to the angle.

is the angle of refraction. . is the angle of incidence. and the same ray of light forms the hypotenuse of another right angle triangle in the glass. A ray of light from the sodium source is the hypotenuse of one right angle triangle (in the air). if you know the size of any two of the sides of a right angle triangle. It is the ratio of the sines of both these angles that is the refractive index of the block of glass. you can always calculate the size of the unknown side.Pythagoras The size of all the sides in a right angle triangle have a simple relationship to one another. (hypotenuse)2 = (side one)2 + (side two)2 This is called "Pythagoras' Theorum". Two Triangles There are two important right angle triangles involved in determining the refractive index of a block of glass. Therefore. and the angle made by the ray of light in the glass to the same normal. The size of the hypotenuse multiplied by itself ("squared"). The angle made by the ray of light in the air to that of the reference light (the normal). is equal to the sum of the squares of the distances of the other two sides.

Once again. a table makes the calculation easier. it is now possible to calculate the sines of the angle of incidence and the angle of refraction. Now do exactly the same calculations to determine the distance traveled by the ray of light in the glass. Distance traveled by ray in air distance from reference light DR (distance from reference light)2 (DR)2 distance from glass DG (distance from glass)2 (DG)2 (distance from reference light)2 + (distance from glass)2 (DR)2 + (DG)2 square root of (distance from reference light)2 + (distance from glass)2 sqrt [(DR)2 + (DG)2] 20 400 34 1156 1556 39. and the "distance from the normal" (in the air) and the "thickness of the glass" (in the glass). and use them to calculate your results.446 distance travelled by ray of light in the air HELP from Mendel's Mother Print out these special tables: "Calculation Table One" "Calculation Table Two". This is the hypotenuse of the two right angle triangles. the second hypotenuse of the second triangle. Step Two: Calculate the sines of the angles Using the distances just calculated for the distances traveled by the ray of light in the air and in the glass. You can use Brother Gregory's Triangle Calculator to find the lengths of the triangle sides. Sines of angles .The calculation is preformed in three steps: Step One: Distance traveled by light rays The first calculation determines the actual distance traveled by the ray of light in the air and in the glass.

Sine: Angle of Incidence distance traveled by ray in air put your results here distance from reference light distance from reference light distance traveled by ray in air Sine: Angle of Refraction distance traveled by ray in glass image image distance distance from from reference light reference distance traveled by ray in glass light put your results here put your put your results here results here put your put your results here results here Step Three: Calculate the refractive index The final step in the calculation sequence is to determine the ratio of the sine of the angle of incidence / sine of the angle of refraction. n = Sine I / Sine R Where n is the refractive index Sine I is the sine of the angle of incidence. and Sine R is the sine of the angle of refraction .

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