# Non-Coherent Light Diffraction through Double Slit

• tapanther
In summary: The distance between the LED and the slits (in cm)? The size of the pinhole opening? The thickness of the material the LED is in (cm)? The type of image you are trying to produce (diffraction or rainbow)?In summary, the LED does not create a diffraction or rainbow pattern when used in a double slit experiment. The distance between the LED and the slits, the size of the pinhole opening, and the thickness of the material the LED is in all play a role in determining whether or not a diffraction or rainbow pattern is visible.
tapanther
Hi, I'm trying to perform a double slit diffraction experiment without using a laser, but instead using a super-bright, white LED. This LED has been placed inside a sealed box with a small pinhole opening (~1/32 inch diameter). This however introduces the problem that the light is incoherent, and rather than seeing a diffraction pattern I see two slits of light projected across the room. I have tried distances ranging from 5 feet to well over 50 feet (the latter using a camera as an integrator to see any pattern that may be invisible to the naked eye). In all cases, I see only 2 slits, or two almost superimposed slits (like a wide single slit with a dark patch running down the center, not diffraction just two lines of light that are almost on top of each other). I thought about using a polarizer and a red filter to make the light as close to coherent as possible, but this did not help. The diffraction pattern appears when using a laser however, as expected. I am wondering what could be the problem. I've tried varying the wall-slits and slits-light distances, basically all possible combinations. I've tried using only a red filter (very good red filter, only allows a small bandwidth through), using only a polarizer (to make all the light oscillate in the same direction), both red filter and circular polarizer, but nothing has worked. I am concerned that perhaps the material my slits are in is too thick for the LED light, since its 1/8 inch thick, and most experiments are done on cardstock or a thin opaque film. Does anyone have any suggestions that may help create a diffraction pattern? Using a laser is not an option, as that defeats the entire purpose, and I know that it can be done using non-coherent light, as that is how Young and Fresnel did it.

Thank You!

The double slit experiment requires spatial coherence, that's true. A 1mm diameter sized visible source placed 1 cm from the apertures gives a coherence area of about 2*10^-7 cm^2- in other words, the slits need to be about 0.005 mm apart to generate interference fringes. Making the source smaller (smaller hole), or moving the LED further away from the slits will result in a larger coherence area, allowing the slit spacing to be larger.

Also, in order to make the fringes sharp, monochromatic light is generally used. Do you at least see rainbows with the LED?

Early experimenters used a filtered arc source (say a Hg arc, a Na lamp, or even a Carbon arc), which is substantially brighter than a superluminescent diode.

Does this help?

Unfortunately I have tried using the light source well over 5 feet away from the slits and see nothing (note I am using a very high quality digital camera to integrate over ~30-90s exposures). Even with the light this far away, the camera clearly records two single slits. I've used monochromatic light (or at least very close to it, using a red filter), but it didn't help. I did not see rainbows with the white LED. I can attempt to use a smaller hole, the camera has very little trouble picking up really faint light since there's no extraneous light sources (I was working in a darkroom).

I also do not have access to an arc lamp, the physics dept here is closed for the weekend, and not being a phys major myself I don't have access.

Thank you though, this gives me a few ideas to try out. I'd still appreciate any other advice you may have.

hmmm... let's start from the beginning. Can you provide information about the LED (manufacturer and model number)?

As a scientist, it is important to carefully consider all factors that may affect an experiment. In this case, it seems that the use of a super-bright, white LED may be causing the issue with obtaining a diffraction pattern. While LEDs are a common and useful tool for many experiments, they may not be suitable for this particular experiment due to the incoherent nature of their light emission. Incoherent light does not have a consistent phase relationship between its waves, which is necessary for diffraction to occur. This is why a laser, which produces coherent light, is able to produce a diffraction pattern in this experiment.

In addition to the light source, the thickness of the material used for the slits may also be a contributing factor. As you mentioned, most experiments are done with thinner materials such as cardstock or thin opaque films. It is possible that the 1/8 inch thickness of your material is not allowing enough light to diffract through the slits.

One suggestion would be to try using a different light source that produces more coherent light, such as a laser or even a monochromatic LED. Additionally, you may want to experiment with thinner materials for the slits to see if that makes a difference in the diffraction pattern.

Overall, it is important to carefully consider the properties of the light source and the materials used in the experiment to ensure that the conditions are suitable for diffraction to occur. I wish you the best of luck in your experiment and hope that these suggestions will help you achieve the desired results.

## 1. What is non-coherent light?

Non-coherent light refers to light waves that have random phase differences, meaning they are not in sync with each other. This type of light is produced by sources such as light bulbs and the sun.

## 2. How does non-coherent light diffraction through a double slit?

When non-coherent light passes through a double slit, it diffracts or spreads out, creating an interference pattern similar to coherent light. However, this pattern is less visible and may appear blurred due to the random phase differences of the light waves.

## 3. What is the difference between non-coherent light diffraction and coherent light diffraction?

The main difference between non-coherent light diffraction and coherent light diffraction is the visibility of the interference pattern. Coherent light produces a clear and distinct pattern, while non-coherent light produces a less visible and often blurred pattern due to the random phase differences of the light waves.

## 4. Can non-coherent light interfere with itself?

Yes, non-coherent light can interfere with itself when passing through a double slit. This is because the light waves still have the same wavelength and can overlap, creating areas of constructive and destructive interference.

## 5. What is the significance of non-coherent light diffraction through a double slit?

Non-coherent light diffraction through a double slit is significant because it helps us understand the wave nature of light. It also demonstrates that light can still exhibit interference patterns even when the waves are not in sync with each other.

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