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What determines how light is reflected

  1. Mar 5, 2010 #1
    What is it exactly about a surface that makes it reflect or absorb some or all wavelengths of light?
  2. jcsd
  3. Mar 5, 2010 #2


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    1. the presence of conduction electrons
    2. the nature of the phonon modes in the material

  4. Mar 6, 2010 #3

    Andy Resnick

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    Alternatively, the index of refraction.
  5. Mar 7, 2010 #4
    Forgive me if I am being thick, but could you explain point 2. more? What is it about the phonon modes? For instance, if a surface just reflects a particular colour, is that because the phonon vibrates at the same frequency as that colour? If so, how does that stop the light from being absorbed?

    Thankyou for your patience.
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