How to know phase difference will be of a light wave entering a thin film?

In summary, the conversation discusses the phase difference that occurs when a light wave travels from air (n=1) to a thin film of water (n=1.33). It is stated that there will be a 180 degree phase difference for a wave that reflects off the top of the air-water boundary, but no phase difference for a wave that refracts into the thin layer of water and reflects off the bottom. However, the book does not explain why this occurs or how to determine the phase difference at the two boundaries. The solution is found to be that if light goes from a higher n to a lower n, there is no phase shift, but if it goes from a lower n to a higher n, there is a
  • #1
fairtrade55
2
0
For instance, I know if a light wave traveling air (n = 1) enters a thin film of water (n = 1.33), there will be a phase difference.

My textbook sol'n manual states that there will be a 180 degree phase difference for a wave of light that reflects of the top of the air-water boundary, but NO phase difference for a wave that refracts into the thin layer of water and reflects off the bottom of the thin layer.

But the book fails to explain why and how we are supposed to know when a phase difference occurs at the two boundaries, and WHAT the phase difference will be at the two boundaries, and what the net phase difference is. Can anyone help?
 
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  • #2
Never mind I found the answer. If anyone in the future comes looking for the answer to this:

If light goes from a ---> b with n(a) > n(b), the reflected wave has no phase shift

If light goes from a ---> b with n(b) > n(a), the reflected wave has half cycle (180 deg) phase shift

n above is index of refraction. b is the inside of the thin film.

Entering the thin film, most probably nb > na, so 180 deg phase shift.

So at the back of the film (exiting it), the light will probably be going from higher n to lower n, so there's no phase shift
 

1. How does the thickness of the thin film affect the phase difference of a light wave?

The thickness of the thin film plays a crucial role in determining the phase difference of a light wave. As the light wave travels through the film, it interacts with the material and its thickness, resulting in a phase shift. The thicker the film, the greater the phase difference.

2. What is the relationship between the refractive index of the thin film and the phase difference of a light wave?

The refractive index of the thin film determines how much the light wave is bent as it enters the film. This bending, known as refraction, can cause a phase shift in the light wave. The higher the refractive index, the greater the phase difference will be.

3. Can the angle of incidence of the light wave affect the phase difference in a thin film?

Yes, the angle of incidence of the light wave can influence the phase difference in a thin film. Depending on the angle, the light wave may travel a shorter or longer distance through the film, resulting in a different phase shift.

4. How does the wavelength of the light wave impact the phase difference in a thin film?

The wavelength of the light wave can also affect the phase difference in a thin film. Longer wavelengths tend to experience a greater phase shift compared to shorter wavelengths. This is because longer wavelengths have a lower frequency and therefore take longer to complete a cycle.

5. Can the type of material used to create the thin film influence the phase difference of a light wave?

Yes, different materials have different refractive indices, which can impact the phase difference of a light wave as it passes through a thin film. Additionally, the thickness and structure of the material can also affect the phase difference.

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