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Finite reflections

  1. Dec 4, 2008 #1
    Two state-of-the-art mirrors are mounted parallel and facing each other. What primarily prevents their reflections from traveling an infinite distance - less than perfect reflectivity, less than perfect flatness, the image of the observer or interference by intervening air?
  2. jcsd
  3. Dec 5, 2008 #2


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    Impossible to tell.
    What you are basically asking it what is limiting the Q value (or if you want, the finesse) of an optical cavity and there is no generic answer to that; it is a combination of many different factors.

    Alhough I would expect a high-finesse cavity to be operated in a good vacuum, so I don't think the last reason you mention is actually relevant.
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