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Refraction of Light

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What is Refraction?
What is Optical Density?
The Laws of Refraction
The Refractive index
Angle of Incidence / Refraction
Total Internal Reflection

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Refraction is the change in


direction of light when it passes
from one medium to another.

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If light ray enters another medium perpendicular to


boundary, the ray does not bend.

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Incident ray
normal

i
air

When the light ray travels


from air to water, the
refracted ray bends
towards the normal.

water

r
Refracted ray

i angle of
incidence
r angle of
refraction

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Refracted ray
normal

air

When the light ray travels


from water to air, the
refracted ray bends away
from the normal.

water

i
Incident ray

i angle of
incidence
r angle of
refraction

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During refraction, light


bends first on passing
from air to glass and
again on passing from
the glass to the air.

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Incident ray

During refraction, light


bends first on passing
from air to glass and
again on passing from
the glass to the air.

Reflected ray

air

Refracted ray

glass

air

Emergent ray

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Light slows down when it enters an optically denser


medium. The refracted ray bends towards the normal
when the second medium is optically more dense than
the first.
Incident ray

normal

air
water

r
Refracted ray

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Light speeds up when it enters an optically less dense


medium. The refracted ray bends away from the normal
when the second medium is optically less dense than
the first.
Incident ray
normal
water

air

r
Refracted ray

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Among the 3 transparent mediums (air, water and


glass), glass has the highest optical density.
Incident ray

air

air
Refracted
r ray

i1

r1

water

r1

i2
Refracted ray

i2

water

Refracted ray

glass

r2
Refracted ray

i1
Incident ray

glass

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Complete these ray diagrams.

air

water

glass

glass

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Complete these ray diagrams.

water

air

air

glass

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The incident ray, the refracted ray and the normal


at the point of incidence all lie in the same plane.

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Incident ray
normal

i
air

For two given media, the ratio


sin i sin r is a constant,
where i is the angle of
incidence and r is the angle
of refraction

water

r
Refracted ray

Refractive
Index, n

sin i
sin r

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The higher the optical density, the greater the


refractive index. The greater the refractive index, the
greater the bending of light towards the normal.
Incident ray

air

air
Refracted
r ray

i1

r1

water

r1

i2
Refracted ray

i2

water

Refracted ray

glass

r2
Refracted ray

i1
Incident ray

glass

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If light is incident upon a piece of glass (refractive


index 1.52) at an angle of 45o, what is the angle of
refraction?

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Given that the refractive index of water is 1.33,


calculate the angle of refraction when the incident
ray comes in at 60o to the normal.
Solutio
n
n=
60
o

air
r

wate
r

sin i
sin r
sin 60o
1.33 =
sin r
o
sin
60
sin r
1.33
=
r =40.6
o

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When light travels from a


less dense medium to a
denser medium

sin r
n=
sin i

sin i
n=
sin r
i

air

When light travels from a


denser medium to a less
dense medium

wate
r

wate
r
r

air

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The figure shows light travelling from water into the air. The
ray is incident upon the boundary at 30o. What is the angle of
refraction if the refractive index of water is 1.33?

Solutio
n
30
wate
r
air

sin r
n=
sin i
sin r
1.3 =
sin
3
30o
sin =
r 1.3sin
o
3
o30
r 41.9
=

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Other ways of calculating the refractive index

Refractive
index, n =

Speed of light in
vacuum / air
Speed of light in
medium

c
=

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Take a look at this...

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The critical angle is the angle of incidence in the


optically denser medium for which the angle of
refraction is 90o.
When i = critical angle,c
r = 90o.

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When i > critical angle, the ray gets reflected internally.


This is called TOTAL INTERNAL REFLECTION.

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For TOTAL INTERNAL REFLECTION to take place:


The light ray must travel from an optically denser
medium towards a less dense one.

Di

no
o
i
t
rec

th
pa
t
lig h

The angle of incidence must be


greater than the critical angle.

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How do we calculate the critical angle?

We know that r = 90o

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We know that when


light travels from a less
dense medium to a
denser medium

We know that when


light travels from a
denser medium to a
less dense medium

Refractive
Index, n

Refractive
Index, n

sin i
sin r

sin r
sin i

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How do we calculate the critical angle?

We know that r = 90o


Refractive
Index, n

sin r
=
sin i
sin 90o
=
sin c
1
=
sin c

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How do we calculate the critical angle?

sin c =
c = sin

1
n
-1

1
n

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Mediu Glass
m:
Refractive 1.50
Index:
Critical
Angle:
c = sin-1
= sin-1
= 41.8o

1
n
1
1.50

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Mediu Water
m:
Refractive 1.33
Index:
Critical
Angle:
c = sin-1
= sin-1
= 48.8o

1
n
1
1.33

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Mediu Diamo
m:
nd
Refractive 2.42
Index:
Critical
Angle:
c = sin-1
= sin-1
= 24.4o

1
n
1
2.42

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Total Internal Reflection in Prisms

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Total Internal Reflection in Prisms

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Fibre Optics