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What is Refractive Index

It was in 1621, when mankind was trying to unravel so many scientific truths, that Willebrord van Roijen Snell discovered the concept of refraction. Light travels at the speed of 299,792.458 km/sec in vacuum. But, what happens when it enters different medium such as air, water or glass? The theory of refraction says that light travels at different speeds in different mediums. It also explains that it bends or changes its direction when it leaves one medium such as air and enters another medium such as water. In 1637, another scientist, Ren Descartes, worked on this theory and came up with equations that forms the Snell's law.

The Definition of Refraction

The index of refraction or the refractive index is a measure of the extent to which a substance slows down light waves passing through it. It is equal to the ratio of velocity of light in a vacuum to its speed in that substance. Its value determines the extent to which the light is refracted (bent) when entering or leaving the substance.

Theory of Refractive Index

Reflection of light by objects enables a person to see them. However, in case of mediums such as water, glass, and air, part of the light is reflected and the other enters the medium. A lot depends on the density of the medium, because it causes the light to slow down and bend. water, is termed as 'Normal'. The angle between the light and this 'normal' is called angle of incidence. The part of light that enters the water from air and slows down, continues its journey onwards through the water. Water is denser than air, which causes the light to bend towards the hermes kelly handbags imitation normal. vintage hermes kelly bag Knockoff Now, the angle between the normal and the light is called the angle of refraction. hermes kelly handbag fake If the light were to exit the water and enter the air, then the light bends away from the normal, which under certain conditions causes a rainbow.

Snell's Law

A ray of light passing through medium with refractive index 'A', enters another medium with an index 'B'. The angle of incidence is 'a' and that of refraction is 'b'. With this information in hand, we can express Hermes So Kelly Bag imitation the Snell's formula as:

Refractive indices at room temperature for some mediums:

The process of a rainbow formation depends on certain conditions such as position of the sun in the sky, and the size of water molecules in the air that is between the viewer and the sun. The light is composed of different colors representing different wavelengths. Angle of refraction of light also depends on the wavelength of light passing through the medium. Because of this, bending of the colors in light is not uniform. The light waves that are part of visible light spectrum bend and emerge out of the water molecules separately, giving us a half circle of distinct rainbow colors. In this case, water molecules at certain height act as prisms.

Although light has dual nature (wave as well as particle), in the field of optics it is treated as a wave. The concept of refraction is used to make periscopes, binoculars, and telescopes. In these instruments, the refractive index of the glass is used to collect the light reflected by different objects to make them appear closer. It is also used to improve the sparkle and appearance of the diamonds by cutting them at a proper angle. Transmitting TV signals through fiber optics is made possible with the help of the concept of refraction.

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