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Mediums that only refract light

  1. Jun 12, 2014 #1
    I know there exists surfaces that only reflect light (mirrors), but are there surfaces that only refract light? If so, how does that happen?
  2. jcsd
  3. Jun 12, 2014 #2


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    Staff: Mentor

    Welcome to the PF.

    What do you mean by "light"? Do you mean just the visible EM spectrum? If so, a mirror reflects much more than just the visible spectrum of light.
  4. Jun 12, 2014 #3
    Well I guess I'm referring to the visible range.
  5. Jun 12, 2014 #4
    I think that his "only" refers to refraction and not to the spectral band (visible light).
    A surface which will not reflect light at all so all incident light will be "refracted" into the second medium.
  6. Jun 12, 2014 #5


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    Science Advisor
    Gold Member

    For light to be refracted (bending of rays) there must be a change in the optical impedance: the index of refraction. Then the Frenel equations describe how much of the light is refracted, and how much is reflected. If the index of refraction is continually changing the eikonal equation can be used to track the rays.

    The same principles apply to all types of waves.
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