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Homework Help: Deviation by a thin prism

  1. Mar 13, 2012 #1


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    1. The problem statement, all variables and given/known data
    This really is not a Homework question, but I guess it fits in here. So, according to snell's law the ratio of sine of angle of incidence to the sine of angle of refraction is a constant called refractive index. But, in our textbook while deriving an expression for "Deviation by a thin prism", Snell's law seems to be used incorrectly. They have written "n = sin (refracted)/sin (incident)", which I do not understand, until now. Probably I'm wrong because I'm just a learner. Do you guys have any idea?

    2. Relevant equations
    A scan of the derivation, from our textbook:

    3. The attempt at a solution
    I googled, but did not find anything interesting.
  2. jcsd
  3. Mar 14, 2012 #2


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    Homework Helper

    General expression for Snell's law is
    n1*sini1 = n2*sini2 where 1 suffices indicates the incident medium and suffices 2 indicates refracted medium.
    Now apply the law to the face AC of the thin prism ABC.
  4. Mar 14, 2012 #3


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    RL, I figured it out myself after asking the problem:)

    The root of the problem arose from our text book. They had, at first defined refractive index as "sin i/sin r" but did not mention that it only holds good in the case where a light ray falls from air(n = 1) into another medium. That's where I fell :)

    Thanks for your reply.
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