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First order minimum - Wave interference

  1. Sep 16, 2014 #1
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    Hi :-)

    I'm currently learning about wave interference and came across two phrases I can't seem to find the meaning of; first order minimum and second order minimum. What do they mean an how are they used? I presume they are for the order of destructive interference or something?
     
  2. jcsd
  3. Sep 16, 2014 #2

    collinsmark

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    The actual answer might depend on the context of the statement.

    But commonly, the "zero-th order" maximum refers to the bright central point of the interference. The "first order" maximum refers to the bright fringes on either side of the central fringe. "Second order" maximum refers to the next set of fringes on the opposite sides of the first order fringes. And so on.

    The "minimum"s refer to the dark patches (as opposed to the bright fringes). So first order minimums refer to the dark patches on either side of the bright, central fringe. Second order minimums refer to the dark patches just outside the first order, bright fringes. And so on.

    But again, although this terminology is common, it is not absolutely universal, and might depend on the context of what is being discussed. Refer to your coursework to be sure.
     
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