Law of Reflection
When a wave is propagating through a medium and find a surface that is a boundary to another medium, part of the wave is reflected so it keeps propagating through the same medium and the other part propagates through the second medium.
Let’s have a closer look at the first part of the wave: the reflected wave.
The law of reflection states that the incidence angle î and the reflected angle î ’ are equal:
The Snell’s Law
This law studies the refraction phenomenon. The angle of refraction, r, depends on the angle of incidence î and the relation between the refractive indexes of the media. The Snell’s law enunciates this relation as:
As n=c/v (where c is the velocity of the light and v the propagation velocity of the medium):In addition, we know that v = λf ( λ is the wavelength and f the frequency):
Conclusions about the Snell’s law
If v2 > v1 , the direction of the refracted wave moves away from the normal of the separation surface (r>i).
If v2 < v1 , the direction of the refracted wave moves towards the normal of the separation surface (r<i).
The wavelength changes in the different media (because the frequency stays constant).
Critical Angle and Total Reflection
The critical angle, ic , is the angle of incidence needed so the angle of refraction is 90º.
If the angle of incidence is greater than the critic angle, there won’t be refraction: this effect is known as total reflection.
We hope you found this post helpful and remember to check it before our next post, which will be a bit more complex: Normal Incidence over Conductors 🙂
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