## Refraction and splitting of a photon

I wonder if someone could help with me with this.

I understand Snells Law and I can also work out various refractions in different media by using C.

But “why” does refraction occur.

Every website I look at (inc Wiki) gives the results of refraction (e.g. Snell’) not the reason. They will talk about what happens when light with XYZ refractive Index inter-reacts with another at ABC RI.

But none of them explain “Why”.

I assume that a photon is an elemental particle (not getting into duality here by the way). So if it elemental “how” can it be split/dispersed.

At the interface some wavelengths will pass through the intersection at a certain speed and other wavelengths will pass at others – so you get bending. OK I can understand this “if” the photon could be split, as it meant to be elemental it should really, should it?

I wonder if someone would be kind enough to the offer a clear and simple explain of “why” refraction occurs (not the results of it).

What is actually happening?

Or is there a website that would give this and do you have a link.

Thank you

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 Blog Entries: 27 Recognitions: Gold Member Homework Help Science Advisor hi karen! "why" depends on the level of detail you want the simplest "why" is that light follows the quickest possible path, and you can easily prove that that means it must follow snell's law at any boundary the most complicated "why" involves considering the quantum effects of each individual molecule in between, we can assume that media are continuous … then the quantum effects boil down to the all-possible-paths approach, which in turn (feynman's description of this is best) favours the quickest possible path

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He needs the quantum version because of:
 At the interface some wavelengths will pass through the intersection at a certain speed and other wavelengths will pass at others – so you get bending. OK I can understand this “if” the photon could be split, as it meant to be elemental it should really, should it?
... which means go watch the feynman lectures on youtube.

The descripton of reflection is easier to follow but refraction works the same way.
The photon don't need to be split at all - some go one way and some go another way and when they all add up at some detector the brightest bit is what's predicted by Snell's law. Some photons travel the other ways as well which can be demonstrated by carefully blocking off some of the material.

With mirrors it's dramatic - you can get a stronger refection by removing most of the mirror (but only for one colour).

## Refraction and splitting of a photon

What is difference b/w unpolarized light and depolarized light????

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