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Fibre Optics with Gelatine

OBJECTIVE

TEACHER WORKSHEET YEAR LEVEL 5-12

1. Demonstrate total internal reflection and the transmission of light through a fibre.

BACKGROUND INFORMATION
Gelatine is a protein derived from collagen a substance present in animals as connective tissues such as skin, cartilage, ligaments, tendons and bones. Commercially, pig skins, cattle hides and bones are cooked and chemically processed to break the collagen into smaller protein molecules. Solutions of these molecules in water are dehydrated to form gelatine granules. When gelatine is mixed with hot water, the protein molecules become crosslinked trapping water and forming a colloidal gel. Set gelatine contains many small irregularities which scatter light to a small degree, enabling a laser beam passing through the gel to be seen. Hence the gelatine can be used to investigate refraction and total internal reflection. Fibre optics used in telecommunications use total internal reflection to pipe light from one place to another. The strip of gelatine can also be used as a light pipe by shining a laser beam into one narrow end and observing light exiting at the other end. The laser light undergoes total internal reflection throughout the strip of gelatine. Attaching a second strip of gelatine near a reflection in the first strip demonstrates fibre coupling. The light in the first strip can become frustrated and couple into the second strip.

WHAT YOU NEED


30g of gelatine 500mL boiling water Bowl Fork/whisk Baking paper Flat-bottomed container 20cm x 10cm Knife Chopping board Overhead Transparency (OHT) Laser <1mW

Extension activity Protractor

Harper, A., Isoardi, G. and Nickels, K. 2008. Queensland University of Technology.

Fibre Optics with Gelatine


WHAT TO DO

TEACHER WORKSHEET YEAR LEVEL 5-12

1. Line the container with baking paper. 2. Evenly add gelatine to boiling water in a bowl while stirring briskly with a fork. (The gelatine will need to be triple concentrated. We have used 30g/500mL but check your packet for instructions.) Continue to stir until all the gelatine has dissolved and the liquid is clear and golden. 3. Pour gelatine mixture into the lined container to a depth of about 10-15mm. Place in the fridge and leave to set overnight or until firm. 4. Line the chopping board with baking paper. Place the chopping board over the container of set gelatine and invert. The gelatine should land on the chopping board. 5. Use a knife to slice off uneven edges from the slab. Next, cut 1-1.5cm strips of gelatine from the slab. 6. Place the gelatine strips on an OHT. 7. In a darkened room, shine a laser into the narrow end of one piece of gelatine. Observe the opposite end of the gelatine strip to determine if any light has travelled through the gelatine. Observe the intensity of the light. 8. Try bending the gelatine strip from its middle. Use the laser again and see if the light travels the length of the gelatine strip. Observe its intensity. 9. Repeat by bending the gelatine strip further and observing the intensity of the light leaving the strip. 10. Try touching the narrow end of a second strip of gelatine to the narrow end of the first strip. Determine if light travels from the first strip and through the second strip. 11. Add a third strip. Observe the intensity of light leaving the third strip. 12. Try leaving a space of air between the narrow ends of two strips of gelatine. Observe the intensity of light leaving the second strip.

QUESTIONS
1. What effect did bending the gelatine strip have on the intensity of transmitted light? Explain. 2. What effect did adding more strips have on the intensity of transmitted light? Explain. The more strips that are added, the less intense the transmitted light becomes. This is because the inhomogeneous join between the strips of gelatine causes the light to diffract in many directions and some light is lost as it passes from one strip to the next. 3. What effect did leaving gaps between strips have on the intensity of transmitted light? Explain. Leaving gaps reduced the intensity of the transmitted light. The light refracted as it travelled from the gelatine into the air. Some of the light was then leaving the gelatine at an angle such that it did not enter the second gelatine strip or entered it at such an angle that it did not travel far through the gelatine.

EXTENSION

Protractor

1. Use a sharp knife to cut the gelatine into triangular and rectangular prisms. Shine a laser into the prisms from different angles and observe refraction. Use a protractor to determine the angle of incidence and angle of refraction and then calculate the refractive index of gelatine using Snells law. 2. Use a laser and protractor to determine the critical angle of gelatine for total internal reflection. 3. Use a knife and template or pastry cutters to make gelatine lenses. Try to focus the ceiling light on a piece of white paper using the gelatine lens.

Harper, A., Isoardi, G. and Nickels, K. 2008. Queensland University of Technology.

Fibre Optics with Gelatine

TEACHER WORKSHEET YEAR LEVEL 5-12

REAL WORLD APPLICATIONS Telecommunications. Optical fibres transformed telecommunications. Previously messages were sent along copper wires but optical fibres offer a wider bandwidth, are light-weight and exhibit low attenuation of signals. They are also non-conducting of electricity and are not susceptible to electromagnetic interference. Endoscopes. Optical fibres in endoscopes allow physicians to see into the body without making incisions. Small optical fibres transport light into the body while other fibres transport video images back to the surgeon. The surgeon can watch the actions of his/her instruments as they are inserted through small incisions by viewing the endoscope.

CURRICULUM
By the end of Year 5 Energy can be transferred from one object to another Different forms of energy used within a community have different sources. By the end of Year 7 Energy can be transferred and transformed. By the end of Year 9 Energy can be transferred from one medium to another Transfer of energy can vary according to the medium in which it travels Physics Senior Syllabus, Organiser 2: Energy E3: Energy transfer processes provide us with different ways of using and dealing with energy and radiation and these have different social consequences and applications. E3.4 Energy has applications in medical, industrial and commercial fields, e.g. radiation, electronics and alternative technologies.

RESOURCES
1. Cunningham, J. and Herr, N. 1994. Hands-on Physics Activities with Real-Life Applications. The Centre for Applied Research in Education. United States of America. 2. Knotts, M. E. (1996). Optics fun with gelatin. Optics and photonics news, April, 50-51. 3. DAVIS Gelatine clear and unflavoured 5 sachet pack of edible gelatine.

Harper, A., Isoardi, G. and Nickels, K. 2008. Queensland University of Technology.