Index of refraction and wavelength

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Homework Statement:

The dependence of the index of refraction of a material on wavelength is...

Relevant Equations:

None
The problem is multiple choice.
A) refraction b) diffraction c) reflection d) dispersion

An explanation would also be greatly appreciated!
 

Answers and Replies

  • #2
Charles Link
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As a homework helper, I'm really not supposed to give the answer, but on this one, I will bend the rules a little, because any explanation of this leads you immediately to the answer. ## \\ ## With a prism, basically light bends as it enters the prism, and that is called refraction. The emerging angle depends on Snell's law, which contains the index of refraction ## n ## in the formula. Because the index ## n ## of refraction can be wavelength dependent, and it is for the kind of glass that is used in a prism, the different wavelengths, basically the colors of the rainbow, are bent different amounts, and the light is separated into the different colors. Alternatively, the speed of light ##v=\frac{c}{n} ##,(## c ## is the speed of light in the vacuum), is different for the different wavelengths inside a material, (since index ## n ## changes slightly with wavelength), and both the separating of the colors, and the speed of light being different for different wavelengths are known as "dispersion".
 
  • #3
kuruman
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This reminds me of a similar question I once asked on a test. Instead of multiple choice, students had to put the name of the process in the appropriate blank. One student hedged his bets and put down reflaction ... :oldsmile:
 
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