1. Limited time only! Sign up for a free 30min personal tutor trial with Chegg Tutors
    Dismiss Notice
Dismiss Notice
Join Physics Forums Today!
The friendliest, high quality science and math community on the planet! Everyone who loves science is here!

About wavefronts/wavelets and the formation of plane waves

  1. Oct 11, 2015 #1
    The photography book I have talks about waveforms, but it doesn't do a good job of explaining them.

    So, here's my understanding from the book and google searches (it could be unbelievably wrong.)

    In an isotropic homogenous medium, light will spread out in all directions, essentially forming a large circle/ball. About at peak amplitude for each oscillation, new wavelets form. Those wavelets form slightly behind the wavefront, and have a slight curl to them.

    When those new wavelets form, they propagate in at least a semi-circular pattern. (that is, they don't go just straight-ahead.)

    This curl is how plane waves form:

    That curl is why a plane wave is able to form: otherwise, the new waves which are now perpendicular to and moving in the same direction as other waves, would slightly lag its fellow waves and be out of phase. The curl makes them lag precisely the amount necessary to be in-phase.

    An image from "The Manual of Photography"
  2. jcsd
  3. Oct 11, 2015 #2


    User Avatar

    Staff: Mentor

    You're digging deeper into the theory than your photography book, but if you google for "Huygens wavelet" you'll find much good information. Try working through some of this, and if you hot some hard spots we can help you over them.
  4. Oct 11, 2015 #3
    From my google search on your term, it looks like I was basically correct? Although I might have the phase issue wrong.

Share this great discussion with others via Reddit, Google+, Twitter, or Facebook