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# Calculating

Wavelength of Light
Using Single Slit
THEORY BEHIND THE
EXPERIMENT
(The Classical and the Modern Approach)
HISTORY OF LIGHT
Points to be covered:
Newton’s Corpuscular Theory of Light
Inability to Explain New Observations
Huygens to the Rescue
Maxwell comes with a Surprise.
THE CORPUSCULAR THEORY(1704)
 Perhaps the most simple Model of light to ever be proposed.
It was proposed by Isaac Newton (In his book, Opticks, he wrote “Are not the
ray of light very small bodies emitted from shining substance?”)
The postulates of the theory:
• Light consists of very small particles.
• The particles are very small in dimensions, thus, collision between particles is a rare
event.
• Particles of different sizes give rise to the sensation of different colors at the retina of
the eye.
• Particles of different sizes refract differently.
The success(s) of the theory:

## The theory of light as a particle was very successful in explaining the

phenomena of reflection and refraction using geometry. Newton was
successful in explaining the Snell’s law of refraction which says that:

sin 𝜃1 𝑣2
=
sin 𝜃2 𝑣1

NOTE: Although, the model satisfies the Snell’s Law, it predicts that if the ray
moves towards the normal(i.e., if the refraction occurs at a denser medium), its
speed would become higher, which is inconsistent with experimental
observations.
The two experimental facts which led to the early belief in the Corpuscular
Model are:
1. Rectilinear propagation of light leading to formation of sharp
2. Light could propagate through vacuum.

NOTE: The domain of physics in which light is assumed to travel in straight lines
is known as geometrical optics, which can easily be explained on the basis of
the Corpuscular Theory of Light.
INABILITY TO EXPLAIN NEW
OBSERVATIONS
Some weird observations and clever experiments:
1. Careful experiments showed that shadows are not perfectly sharp.
2. Light getting polarized.
3. Formation of thin films on soap.
4. Young’s Double Slit Experiment.(A revolutionary experiment)

##  Historically, ‘Newton’s Rings’, were observed by Hooke around the middle of

the 17th century; the rings are named after Newton because he tried to give
an explanation behind them on the basis of the Corpuscular Model, which
was later on found to be quite unsatisfactory.
HUYGENS TO THE RESCUE(1678)

 Around 1665, Francesco Grimaldi, was probably the first person to observe
the phenomenon of diffraction od white light as it passed through small
apertures. He was quoted:
“light is a fluid that exhibits wave-like motion”
The better thing to note about this point is that, this observation was much
before Newton’s Model(1704).
In 1678(again, much before Newton), Huygens put forward the wave model
of light. Using this model, he was successful in explaining the laws of
reflection and refraction.
However, so compelling was Newton’s authority that it is said that people
around Newton had faith in his corpuscular theory more than Newton
himself.
The reason behind calling Young’s Double Slit Experiment a ‘revolutionary’
one has its own reputation. No one believed in Huygens wave model of light
until Thomas Young performed the famous interference experiment, whose
results could only be explained on the basis of the wave model of light.
In 1802, Young gave satisfactory explanation for the formation of Newton’s
Rings. In 1816, Fresnel explained the diffraction phenomenon using wave
theory. In 1808, Malus observed polarization of light.
In the second quarter of the 19th century the wave model of light seemed to
be very well-established.
Postulates of Huygens Wave Theory of light:

## 1. Every point on the given wavefront called 'primary wavefront' acts as

a fresh source of new disturbance, called 'secondary wavelets' that
travel in all directions with the velocity of light in the medium.
2. A surface touching these secondary wavelets tangentially in the
forward direction at any instant gives a new wavefront at that instant.
This is the secondary wave front.
MAXWELL COMES WITH A
SURPRISE
Maxwell is claimed by many to be the greatest mind of the 19th Century. He
found out that electricity and magnetism are not two different things, but
rather, they are the manifestation of the same thing.
Using the Maxwell’s equations, Kohlrausch and Weber carried out to
measure a certain quantity of electric charge. Using these measurements,
Maxwell calculated the speed of electromagnetic waves to be
3.107 × 108 m/s. It was very close to the then calculated value of the speed of
light measured by Fizeau 3.14858 × 108 m/s.
The sole fact that both the values were very close to each other led Maxwell
to propound(1865)his electromagnetic theory of light, according to which:
Light waves are electromagnetic waves
THE THEORY OF DIFFRACTION
The Classical Approach (Using Huygens Wave Theory)
The Modern Approach (Using the Famous Uncertainty Principle)
THE CLASSICAL APPROACH
(USING HUYGENS WAVE THEORY)
Let us now consider an experimental set up with the slit width being ‘a’,
distance between the slit and the screen to be ‘D’.
We assume that the slit consists of a large number of equally spaced point
sources and that each point on the slit is a source of Huygens’ secondary
wavelets which interfere with the other ones.
Let the distances between two consecutive points be ‘d’. Thus, if the number
of point sources are ‘n’, then, :
𝑏 = 𝑛−1 𝑑
Using this, it can be calculates the corresponding phase difference is given
by:
2𝜋
𝜙= 𝑑 𝑠𝑖𝑛𝜃
𝜆
Thus, if there are ‘n’ light sources interfering each other, then the resulting
field at any point P is given by:

## 𝐸 = 𝑎 𝑐𝑜𝑠𝜔𝑡 + cos 𝜔𝑡 + 𝜙 + cos 𝜔𝑡 + 2𝜙 + ⋯ cos 𝜔𝑡 − 𝑛 − 1 𝜙

𝑛𝜙
sin 1
2
=𝑎 cos[𝜔𝑡 − 𝑛 − 1 𝜙]
𝜙 2
sin( )
2
Finally we get:
1
𝐸 = 𝐸0 cos 𝜔𝑡 − 𝑛 − 1 𝜙
2
𝑛𝜙
𝑎 sin 2
Where,𝐸0 = 𝜙
sin( 2 )

## And for n→∞ and d→0, we have in such a way that 𝑛𝑑 → 𝑏:

𝑛𝜙 𝜋 𝜋
= 𝑛𝑑 𝑠𝑖𝑛𝜃 → 𝑏 𝑠𝑖𝑛𝜃
2 𝜆 𝜆
Further,
2𝜋 2𝜋 𝑏𝑠𝑖𝑛𝜃
𝜙= 𝑑 𝑠𝑖𝑛𝜃 =
𝜆 𝜆 𝑛
Thus, now E will become:
𝑠𝑖𝑛𝛽
𝐸=𝐴
𝛽
𝑠𝑖𝑛𝜃
Where, 𝐴 = 𝑛𝑎 𝑎𝑛𝑑 𝛽 = 𝜋𝑏
𝜆
The Intensity is given by:
𝐼0 sin2 𝛽
𝐼=
𝛽2
The point of minima is the point where intensity is zero. Thus, we have:
𝑏𝑠𝑖𝑛𝜃 = 𝑚𝜆
For a point of minima.
And since 𝜃 is very small, we have 𝑠𝑖𝑛𝜃~𝑡𝑎𝑛𝜃~𝜃. Thus, finally we have:
𝑦
𝑏 =𝑚𝜆
𝐷
If we know the rest of parameters, the wavelength can be found out to be:
𝑦𝑏
𝜆=
𝑚𝐷
𝑦
In our experiment we find the value of from the slope of the line plotted
𝑚
between the distance of minima and the order of the minima.
THE MODERN APPROACH
(USING THE FAMOUS UNCERTAINTY PRINCIPLE)

## The Heisenberg’s Uncertainty in one way is something which totally abolishes

to concept of deterministic approach towards physics. According to it, no
two conjugate variables can be determined with 100% certainty in a single
moment. One of the most famous pair of conjugate variables are position
and momentum(the ones we will be needing to understand diffraction).
Mathematically, it is shown to be:

Δ𝑥. Δ𝑝𝑥 ≥
4𝜋
Where, ‘x’ is the momentum and 𝑝𝑥 is the momentum component along the
‘x’ direction.
• Here is video by Prof. Walter Lewin Explaining the Heisenberg’s Uncertainty
Principle using a single slit:
What essentially was done in this experiment is the same thing that we will be
doing in ours, except that our slit will be having a constant width.
Thus, we can see that diffraction is nothing but a direct consequence of
Heisenberg’s Uncertainty Principle.
LASERS
(SPECIAL FOCUS ON HE-NE LASER)

Introduction
Specifications of the He-Ne Laser
INTRODUCTION
A laser is a device that emits light through a process of optical
amplification based on the stimulated emission of electromagnetic
radiation. The term "laser" originated as an acronym for:
“Light Amplification by Stimulated Emission of Radiation“.
The first laser was built in 1960 by Theodore H. Maiman at Hughes Research
Laboratories, based on theoretical work by Charles Hard Townes and Arthur
Leonard Schawlow. A laser differs from other sources of light in that it emits
light coherently. Spatial coherence allows a laser to be focused to a tight
spot, enabling applications such as laser cutting and lithography. Spatial
coherence also allows a laser beam to stay narrow over great distances
(collimation), enabling applications such as laser pointers.
SPECIFICATIONS OF HE-NE LASER
• Type: Gas Laser
• Gain Medium: Helium and Neon (10:1)
• Operational Wavelength: 632.8 nm.
• Spectrum Position: Red Part of the Visible Spectrum
PROCEDURE
&
CALCULATIONS
(The Book and the Experience)
LEAST COUNT OF TRAVELLING
MICROSCOPE
• Calculate the total no. of divisions in 1 cm. If there are ‘m’ divisions in 1 cm,
then:
m div = 1 cm
Thus,1 div = (1/m) cm
• If there are ‘n’ divisions in the Vernier Scale, it means that:
n VSD = (1/m) cm
Thus, 1 VSD = (1/mn) cm
• If the Main Scale reading is at ‘M’ and the ‘Nth’ VSD is coinciding with the
MSD, then the reading is given as:
Reading = (M)+(N x VSD)
THE SLIT WIDTH
First, set the travelling microscope on a flat surface. Lay a stand for the slit in
front of the microscope. On top of it, put a grating stand and place the slit
on the grating stand.
Initially, place the stand of for placing the grating immediately in front of the
microscope and then slowly take it a little away. (It should be done so that
we do not have to keep on searching the slit through the microscope once
we have started to move it to take the readings.)
We must take the measurements in the same direction of the propagation of
the microscope. (we must make sure that the cross-hair must be vertical,
that helps a lot.)
Starting from one side, stop the microscope when the cross hair just overlaps
the first edge that we meet. Take the reading. Now, moving the microscope
‘through the slit width’ towards the other edge and stop at it. Now take the
other reading. Subtract the readings from one another and take the
absolute value.
THE BOOK
(WHAT THE BOOKS TELLS US TO DO*)
Adjust the position of He-Ne source so that the axis of the laser tube is
horizontal. Make sure the optical bench is in level.
Place the slit in front of He-Ne laser source on an upright and make it
vertical.
Illuminate the slit with the laser beam.
Place the screen S at a large distance from the slit (1 to 3m) and adjust it’s
position so as to get a sharp diffraction pattern.

## *(terms and conditions apply)

Place a graph or tracing paper on the screen S to trace the
diffraction pattern.
With a pencil, mark the positions of as many minima as you can see
and mark their orders as -1, -2, -3, … on the left of the central
maximum and as 1, 2, 3, … on the right of central maximum.
Measure the distances of the minima from the left side choosing any
point as zero with a scale or travelling microscope.
The leftmost edge of the leftmost maxima on the graph/tracing paper
was chosen as our reference point.
THE EXPERIENCE
(NOTHING BUT THE PRECAUTIONS AND SOURCES OF ERROR)

Do NOT wait for the experiment to end and then you check whether the
laser beam is horizontal and not tilted.
Laser beam should not be looked upon directly with naked eye.(This one
goes unsaid)
Once a sharp diffraction pattern is achieved, the set-up should not be