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What is optics?
Optics is the study of the nature
and behaviour of visible light,
along with its interactions with
matter.

## These interactions include

reflection, refraction, total
internal reflection and
diffraction.

## This definition can be extended

to encompass the family of
waves to which light belongs:
the electromagnetic spectrum.

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Properties of EM waves
Electromagnetic (EM) waves travel as oscillations in electrical
and magnetic fields, and can transmit energy through a
vacuum. They are always transverse waves.

electric field

magnetic field

## In a vacuum, EM waves travel at the speed of light

(299,792,458 ms-1) but they slow down in different
substances.

The EM spectrum

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Lasers as light sources
Lasers are often used as light sources because their light is:

monchromatic emitted
with only one wavelength

## coherent all waves are

either exactly in phase or
display a constant phase
difference

## collimated a narrow, approximately parallel, beam

Other light sources, such as the Sun and light bulbs, are
polychromatic, incoherent and uncollimated.

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Electromagnetic spectrum: a summary

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What is refraction?
Refraction is the change of direction a light ray undergoes
when it enters a medium with a different optical density.

## Light travels at different

speeds in materials with
different optical densities,
and the change in
direction occurs due to the
change in the speed of the
light.

## In a vacuum, light travels at

299,792,458 ms-1.

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Why does refraction occur?
As a light ray enters a
medium that is more incident normal
optically dense, it slows i1
ray air
down and bends
towards the normal. glass
r1
As a light ray enters a
normal
medium that is less optically i2
dense, it speeds up and
bends away the normal.
In this diagram: r2
i1 > r 1 i2 < r 2
refracted
i1 = r 2 r1 = i 2 ray

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Investigating refraction

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Refractive index
The speed of light in a particular substance is expressed as
the refractive index (n) of that medium.

## refractive index speed of light in vacuum (c)

=
of substance (ns) speed of light in substance (cs)

## medium speed of light (ms-1) refractive index (n)

vacuum 299,792,458 1
air 299,702,547 1.0003
water 224,900,569 1.333
glass 198,538,051 1.51
diamond 123,933,393 2.419

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Snells law of refraction
Refractive indices can be used to make predictions about
refraction.
normal
1
medium 1: refractive index = n1
medium 2: refractive index = n2
2

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Refraction calculations

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Total internal reflection

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Finding the critical angle

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Optical fibres and TIR

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Structure of optical fibres

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TIR and the critical angle: a summary

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What is diffraction?
or bending of waves as they
pass through a gap or around
an obstacle.

## All types of waves can be

diffracted, but the amount
depends on the ratio of the
wavelength to the size of
the opening or obstacle.

## Diffraction is greatest when the

wavelength is approximately the
same as the width of the gap.

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Single slit diffraction
When light passes
through a narrow slit,
a pattern of alternate
bright and dark
fringes is produced.
This is a single slit
diffraction pattern.

intensity
The intensity of the
fringes against
distance from the
centre can be
plotted on a graph.
distance from centre

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Single slit diffraction pattern intensity
The intensity of a single slit diffraction pattern displays some
important features:

intensity
The central maximum
is twice as wide as
the other fringes.

## The central maximum

is much brighter than
the other fringes.
distance from centre

## The pattern becomes more spread out if a narrower slit

and larger wavelength of light are used.

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Diffraction gratings
A diffraction grating
is a plate with many
closely spaced parallel
slits. It produces
widely spaced
interference patterns
as a result of the
superposition of waves
from the many slits.

## The pattern from a diffraction grating consists of brighter and

sharper fringes than the pattern from a double slit arrangement.

## The pattern is much clearer, which makes it possible to

calculate the wavelength of the light more accurately.

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The diffraction grating equation

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The diffraction grating equation
The diffraction grating equation:

n = dsin

where 1 = 60'.

## The maximum number of orders, n, can be found by

substituting = 90 into the equation. Given that sin90 = 1:
n = d / , rounded down the nearest whole number.

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The spectrometer
A spectrometer is an important application of diffraction
gratings. It used to measure wavelengths of light very
accurately.

## This has many applications, such as determining the

chemical compositions of stars and hence showing the red
shift evidence for the expanding universe

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Investigating diffraction gratings

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Diffraction grating calculations

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Glossary

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Whats the keyword?

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Multiple-choice quiz