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Topics to be Presented:

Wave Nature of Light ( Maxwells Electromagnetic Theory)

Electromagnetic Spectrum

Hertz Experiment

Particle Nature of Light ( Max Plancks Quantum Theory)

Proof of Particle Theory- Photoelectric Effect

Wavefront & Wave Normal

Huygens Principle

Reflection of light

Refraction of light

Total Internal Reflection & Critical Angle

Wave Nature of Light

1820, Oersted discovered that a current carrying wire caused a deflection of a

magnetic needle placed near the wire and thus concluded that a current
carrying conductor produces a magnetic field around it. Since current is a
rate of flow of charge we can say that moving charges i.e moving electric
field produces a magnetic field in surrounding space.

In 1831, Faraday discovered that electric current is produced in a coil when

there is relative motion between the coil and a magnet i.e because of varying
magnetic field electric field is generated.

Thus a change in electric or magnetic field with time produces the other
field. In 1864, Maxwell theoretically predicted interlinking between
electricity and magnetism. He predicted that very high frequency electric
alternating current radiated energy in the form of electromagnetic waves.

In 1888 Hertz succeeded in producing and detecting the existence of

electromagnetic waves.

Maxwells Electromagnetic Wave Theory

Light is transmitted in the form of

electromagnetic waves which
propagate in the form of time
varying electric and magnetic
fields such that the two fields are
perpendicular to each other and
also to the direction of propagation
of waves. Thus these waves are
transverse in nature and thus do
not require a medium for

All electromagnetic waves travel

with same velocity in vacuum
which is given by:

Electromagnetic SpectrumIt is the orderly distribution of electromagnetic waves according to their

wavelengths and frequencies in form of distinct group having different
The wavelength and frequency of electromagnetic wave are inversely
proportional to each other while the speed is constant( 3 x 10 m/s) and is
represented by c=

Hertz Experiment:

An apparatus similar to the one

illustrated was used. Hertz used an
oscillator made of polished brass
knobs (here shown by capacitor
plates), each connected to an
induction coil and separated by a
tiny gap over which sparks could

Each visible spark is actually a

series of many small sparks,
jumping rapidly back and forth
(oscillating) between the terminals.

The size of the metal plates

attached to the spheres from which
the sparks are produced, controls
the frequency of the sparks
produced.( Cont..)

Hertz Experiment( Cont..)

Hertz reasoned that, if Maxwell's

predictions were correct,
electromagnetic waves would be
transmitted during each series of

To confirm this, Hertz made a simple

receiver of looped wire. At the ends
of the loop were small
knobsseparated by a tiny gap

He observed that a spark occurred in

the spark gap in the loop whenever
the spark passed through the gap
connected to the coil

According to Maxwell's theory, these

changes propagate through space as
electromagnetic waves. Upon
arrival at the loop of wire, the
changing electric and magnetic
fields produce a potential difference

Particle Nature of Light ( Max Plancks Quantum


Radiant energy is emitted or absorbed discontinuously in the form of

small energy bundles or energy packets known as quanta or photons.
This implies that radiations obtained from excited atom consists of
stream of photons and not continuous waves.

Each quantum of radiation is associated with a definite amount of

energy depending upon the frequency of radiation. The energy E is
given by, E= h, where v is the frequency of the emitted radiation and
h is a constant known as Plancks constant. The numerical value of
constant is, h= 6.626 x 10-26 Js

The body can emit or absorb energy only in an integral, whole no.
multiple of quantum. Thus radiant energy can be emitted as hv, 2hv,
and so on.

Proof of Particle Theory- Photoelectric


When a beam of light of sufficient

energy is made to fall on the surface
of the metal, electrons are ejected.
This phenomenon is called
photoelectric effect.

In 1905, Albert Einstein explained the

effect on basis of quantum theory.

When a photon of certain energy hv

strikes the surface of the metal, it
gives its energy to the electron on the
surface of the metal.

If the frequency of the corresponding

photon is equal to threshold frequency
v0 of, it gives its entire energy hv0 to
the electron which enables it to come
out of the attractive forces. ( Cont..)

Proof of Particle Theory- Photoelectric Effect( Cont..)

If the frequency is less than v0 , then

electron will not be able to come out
of the metal and no ejection of
electron will take place

When the frequency of light is

greater than the threshold frequency
h0, a part of the energy of the photon
is consumed to separate the electron
from the metal and the remaining
energy is imparted to the ejected
electron which acquires certain
velocity v and hence kinetic energy
as shown besides

The no of photoelectrons ejected

increases with increase of intensity
of incident light. It implies that
intensity refers to more photons and
not more energetic photons.

Wavefront &Wave Normal

A locus of all the points of the

medium to which the waves
reach simultaneously so that all
the points are in the same
phase is called a wavefront.

A perpendicular drawn to the

surface of a wavefront at any
point of wavefront in the
direction of propagation of
light, is called a wave normal.

Huygens Principle

In order to explain how propagation

of light waves takes place, Huygens
proposed the principle.

According to Huygens, every point

on the wavefront behaves as if it is a
secondary source of light sending
secondary waves in all possible
directions and the new secondary
wavelets are more effective in
forward direction only

The resultant wavefront at any

position is given by tangent to all the
secondary wavelets at that instant.

Reflection of light

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

It occurs when the waves encounter a

surface or other boundary that does not
absorb the energy of the radiation and
bounces the waves away from the

When the electric field in light hits the

electrons in matter, the electrons
oscillate up and down. But when a
charged particle moves back and forth, it
emits more electromagnetic waves!

The mechanism of the process is as

follows: Light hits electrons in matter,
the light makes the electrons oscillate,
and the electrons oscillating gives off
more light.

Laws and Types of Reflection

If the reflecting surface is very smooth, the

reflection of light that occurs is called
specular or regular reflection. The laws of
reflection are as follows:

1. The incident ray, the reflected ray and the

normal to the reflection surface at the point
of the incidence lie in the same plane.

2. The angle which the incident ray makes

with the normal is equal to the angle which
the reflected ray makes to the same normal.

3. The reflected ray and the incident ray are

on the opposite sides of the normal.

When light strikes the surface of a (nonmetallic) material it bounces off in all
directions due to multiple reflections by the
microscopic irregularities inside the material.
(e.g. the grain boundaries of a
polycrystalline material) and by its surface,
if it is rough. Thus, an 'image' is not formed.
This is called diffuse reflection.

Proof of Law of Reflection



So, DAC= DCA (corresponding angles of congruent triangles)

i= r

Refraction of light

When light passes obliquely from one

medium to another medium it undergoes a
change in its velocity and an abrupt change
in direction of propagation and the
wavelength is also altered. This phenomenon
is called as refraction.

The frequency of the wave does not change

since it is proportional to the energy of the
wave and there is no change in the energy
during the process

The amount of bending is more if the angle

of incidence is more and if greater is the
velocity difference between the two media.

Snells Law: The ratio of sine of angle of

incidence and sine of angle refraction is a
constant . It is also true that ratio of velocity
of the light in incident medium and reflected
medium is also bears the same value. This
constant is called as refractive index.

Refraction of light (Cont..)

In general the refractive index of a medium

is given with reference to vacuum.
Refractive index of a medium can be defined
as the ratio of velocity of light in vacuum to
velocity of light in the medium.

When light travels from air to a medium

such as glass(optically denser), the velocity
of light decreases in the medium because
the higher optical density of a material
relates to the slower tendency of the atoms
of a material to maintain the absorbed
energy of an electromagnetic wave in the
form of vibrating electrons before
reemitting it as a new electromagnetic

The wavefront covers a smaller radius in the

optically denser medium and thus the
tangent to the secondary wavefronts i.e new
resultant wavefront in the second medium
wavefront bends and hence the wave normal
i.e. refracted ray becomes bent.

Proof of Snells law:

Total Internal Reflection & Critical Angle

When a ray of light passes through

denser medium to rarer medium as
the angle of incidence increases, the
angle of refraction also increases. At
a particular angle of incidence the
angle of refraction is 90 degrees. This
angle of incidence at which the
refracted light travels along the
interface of two media is called
critical angle.

When the angle of incidence is

greater than the critical angle the
ray is totally reflected in the denser

Reason for Total Internal Reflection:

Partial Reflection and Refraction

occurs when a wave is travelling
between two mediums. Some of
the wave is reflected back and the
rest is refracted through into the
other medium.

Fresnel's equations describe the

reflection and transmission of
electromagnetic waves at an
interface. That is, they give the
reflection and transmission
coefficients for waves parallel and
perpendicular to the plane of

Fresnel gave the following 2

reflection coefficients:

Formula for critical angle