1. Not finding help here? Sign up for a free 30min tutor trial with Chegg Tutors
    Dismiss Notice
Dismiss Notice
Join Physics Forums Today!
The friendliest, high quality science and math community on the planet! Everyone who loves science is here!

Just a very quick question ( interpreting the index of refraction)

  1. Jan 9, 2006 #1
    Just to clear things up... does a greater index of refraction mean that the light bends more or less?
     
  2. jcsd
  3. Jan 9, 2006 #2

    James R

    User Avatar
    Science Advisor
    Homework Helper
    Gold Member

    Light only bends when it goes from one index of refraction to another. The amount by which it bends depends on the difference between the two indices.

    If light is going from air into some other material with index n greater than one, then it will bend more for larger n.
     
  4. Jan 11, 2006 #3

    andrevdh

    User Avatar
    Homework Helper

    Index of refraction are given relative to some medium, usually vacuum if the other medium is not stated. According to the definition of index of refraction we have that
    [tex]n\equiv\frac{c}{v}[/tex]
    where [itex]c[/itex] is the velocity of light in vacuum and [itex]v[/itex] is the velocity of light in the medium of which the refractive index is given. Refraction is therefore a result of the velocity of light changing as it passes from one medium (vacuum) to the other (eg. glass). If the refraction index of some medium is therefore [itex]1.0[/itex] no refraction will take place. When light enters mediums other than vacuum it is slowed down, therefore the above ratio gives values larger than one. Mediums with larger indices of refraction therefore slows light down more than ones with smaller indices of refraction resulting in light being refracted more in mediums with larger refractive indices. Note that this slowing down of light in medium is also color dependent - higher frequencies (shorter wavelenghts) is slowed down more than lower frequencies (longer wavelengths) of light. The refractive index is therfore also dependent on the wavelength of the light entering the medium.
     
Know someone interested in this topic? Share this thread via Reddit, Google+, Twitter, or Facebook

Have something to add?



Similar Discussions: Just a very quick question ( interpreting the index of refraction)
Loading...