Refraction of Light in Perspex Prisms

Topics: Refraction, Total internal reflection, Snell's law Pages: 3 (647 words) Published: May 29, 2004
Examining the Refraction of Light in Prisms


1. What is the relationship between the angle of incidence and the angle of refraction?

The angle of incidence (formed by the ray of light travelling though air into a slab of rectangular perspex) is not directly proportional to the angle of refraction (angle formed between the ray travelling though perspex and the normal). The graph of the plotted angles of incidence against the angles of refraction is not a straight line and therefore demonstrates this. However, a constant can be found by the formula sin i / sin r which is the specific refractive index for a particular medium eg. glass. Once the refractive index of a certain medium is known, the angle of refraction can be calculated if the angle of incidence and known and vice versa. The denser the medium, the larger the refractive index. Usually, the angle of incidence is larger than the angle of refraction when a ray of light is travelling from a less dense medium to a denser one.

2. Does the refracted angle remain the same for different angles of incidence?

NO. If the angle of incidence changes, so does the angle of refraction. In no cases will differing angles of incidence produce the same angles of refraction.

3. Has the ray been refracted towards or away from the normal when going form air to perspex?

Because the ray of light is travelling from a less dense to a denser medium (air to perspex), the ray of light will bend towards the normal, if the beam was travelling from a denser medium to a less dense one, it would bend away from the normal. The ray of light entering the slab of perspex should be parallel to the ray of light emerging from the far side of the perspex (they merely experience lateral shifting).

4. Why did the rays of light refract in perspex?

Light rays refract when they meet a new medium, travelling at a different velocity - the greater the change in the velocity, the more severe the bending of the ray against...
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