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Optics is the field of physics that deals with the study of light and its interactions with mater. It is the bases for many of the instruments used by scientists to study the Universe. Optics also helps us to understand vision, the main way we perceive the world. It also helps us improve our vision through corrective lenses where there are defects and to improve are ability to see distant objects and small objects.
The properties of light most often used in optics come mainly from its wave nature, they include reflection, refraction, interference and diffraction. These properties affect the direction and perception of light and it is this aspect that make them useful.
Reflection is the processes were light; or any wave bounces off of a surface. In most cases the light is scattered and only some wavelengths are reflected resulting in variations in color. However when the surface is smooth and reflects all wavelengths of visible light it reproduces the original wave allowing the viewer to see the source of that wave. Such a surface is called a mirror.
Refraction is the bending of light; or any wave; as it passes from medium to another. The phase velocity of a light wave is slower in some media than others, as a result when a change in medium occurs, the wavelength changes so that the frequency remains constant. When entering a faster medium the wavelength gets longer and shorter for a slower medium. When the change in medium occurs at an angle the wave bends so that at the boundary the waves remain aligned.
Interference is quite easy to understand, since it is simply the adding together of two waves. The math involved in calculating interference is as simple as adding the wave formula of one wave to that of the other. The result is that when the peeks of two waves are at the same point they produce a larger peek, but if they are negative and positive peeks they tend to cancel each other out.
Diffraction occurs when a wave front encounters the edge of a barrier. When encountering such an edge the wave produces secondary wave fronts that bend around the edge. In optics it usually involves one or more slits. When a wave passes through a slit with a width close to the wave length of the original wave the wave fronts that come out on the other side interfere with each other to produce a diffraction pattern as illustrated below.
The most common use diffraction is measuring the wave length produced by a source.
Chemical analyses through diffraction
The human eye
The human eye contains only a few optical components. When the eye is at rest in its normal state the focus is directed to distant objects. In healthy young people under the age of about 50 years the power of the crystalline lens can be increased to allow near objects to be clearly focused, a process known as accommodation.
- ↑ 1.0 1.1 Bass, Michael, ed. (2010). Handbook of Optics. III - Vision and Vision Optics (3rd ed.). New York: McGraw-Hill. p. 1.3. ISBN 978-0-07-162928-7.
- Optics, an online physics textbook.
- Reflection of Light
- Refraction of light
- Interference in Light Waves
- Diffraction - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
- Diffraction grating - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia