# Why does light slow down in a medium?

• professorscot
Do you need a link to explain what you mean by "light phonon"?

No. I just think their explanation was more sound looking than mine. And some of the maths/science for the electromagnetic phonon wave is stuff I never studied.

OK, so when you say "light" you mean any electromagnetic radiation.

Yes...what other kind of light is there.

And your theory is that the black body radiation is just phonons that reach the boundary of the solid and get converted to outgoing photons?

Yes...100%...And if you can tell me it's by some other mechanism, let's hear it.

You mean coupling of phonons with photons, right?

Tomatoes, tomaytoes...if they're going to couple their resultant waves are going to be a coupling of the same thing.

Water is not a dielectric? What do you consider it to be? A conductor?

Okay. Plain tap water is not a dielectric polariser. And if it won't conduct, just throw in a little salt.

Is glass (transparent medium) a dielectric? Are there "polarized phonons" in glass? How about in (transparent) sodium chloride crystals?

All transparent solids are crystals, some are natural polarisers and some are not. And all solids to a certain extent are transparent.

If I didn't know better, I'd say you're playing some game at trying to catch me out.

It looks essential to me that we clearly distinguish between certain mechanical vibrations and the secondary electromagnetic waves that result from (other) mechanical vibrations.

If you think otherwise, please try to explain -preferably based on reliable references- why light propagates with an effective speed of several 100'000 km/s in glass, and not with several km/s.

The electromagnetic wave propagates through the medium at near the speed of light - because it enters the material at the speed of light. The sound wave propagates through the material at near the speed of sound, because it enters at near the speed of sound.

Mechanical vibrations will always result in heating. And will always result in an increase of the black body radiation of the material.

The electromagnetic wave propagates through the medium at near the speed of light - because it enters the material at the speed of light. The sound wave propagates through the material at near the speed of sound, because it enters at near the speed of sound. [..]
Sorry but no: that's not in line with wave theory. Honestly, it doesn't make any sense. And it surely won't allow you to correctly predict either the speed of light or the speed of sound in glass!

According to these NIST researchers, phonons and dielectric constant are deeply connected.

If you don't want to wade through the work read just the abstract and conclusions. You'll get the picture.

http://www.ctcms.nist.gov/~cockayne/papers/cockayne/catio3.pdf
Interesting! I think that this is an exceptional case but that's also useful for the general explanations:

"The dielectric response is dominated by low frequency (ν ∼ 90 cm−1 ) polar optical modes in which cation motion opposes oxygen motion"

If I understand it correctly, in that crystal the secondary light waves result mainly from the interaction of ions with the light. As it's also the interaction of ions with each other that govern acoustic waves, those two properties will be directly related - although still not the same.

If I didn't know better, I'd say you're playing some game at trying to catch me out.
I was actually trying to figure out if you are making things out or just presenting some information in a distorted way and/or mixing up the meaning of some usual terms.

Yes...what other kind of light is there.
Well, whereas light is electromagnetic wave, not all electromagnetic waves are visible light.
Some people may use "light" to mean EM radiation in general.
I asked you if by "light" you mean visible or EM in general. Your answer show that I did nor make myself clear enough.

Tomatoes, tomaytoes...if they're going to couple their resultant waves are going to be a coupling of the same thing.
No and no. Even though "photons" and "phonons" have only one letter different, they mean very distinct things. The fact that they may couple does not automatically imply that they are the same thing of that will be a coupling of the "same thing".
Along the same line of argument, electrons and protons are the same thing if they are going to couple in a hydrogen atom (to keep the example in the field of physics).

Okay. Plain tap water is not a dielectric polariser. And if it won't conduct, just throw in a little salt.
All transparent solids are crystals, some are natural polarisers and some are not. And all solids to a certain extent are transparent.
The term "polarizer" is usually used to designate a device or filter that passes light with a specific polarization state. Some crystals (example calcite) are natural polarizers. But this is quite unrelated to the question, which was about dielectrics. Maybe you mean something else.

Pure water is considered usually a dielectric material (see dielectric constant of water).

What would be the point of "All transparent solids are crystals"? Do you mean that some of the nontransparent ones are not? Or that only the transparent ones are? I am not playing games, it's simply unclear to me what point are trying to make.

As far as i can comprehend it results from the interaction of electric and magnetic fields of light with molecules of the medium. Inevitably the propagation spped would slow down.
Found a good rticle on wiki:-
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Slow_light

Richard P. Feynman explains these topics very well, I advice you all to view his lectures on QED (available on youtube). To understand this question you have to know a lititle bit about quantum mechanics.

Light is an electro magnetic wave but when 1 photon is followed it's a particle, this is very important to understand and keep in mind.

To awnser this question you have to look at QED (quantum electrodynamics).

Thanks for all your AWEsome work Richard P. Feynman

I was tutoring a student in an optics lesson the other day. We discussed the foundational concept, that light travels more slowly in a physical medium (such as air, water, or glass) than in vacuum. She asked, "Why? Because of friction?" and I said, "No, not friction," but then I had to admit, I didn't know what mechanism actually causes a light wave to slow down. It would seem more intuitive to me that a beam of light passing through a physical medium would lose energy / momentum (frequency).

But what causes it to slow down?
Maybe the medium stores energy? Like a transmission line.

As the photon exits the media to again propagate through a vacuum it immediately assumes speed c and it's original frequency. .

Not always. The wave can be changed so that it's speed is less than c when reentering "free space".

This thread lay dormant, peacefully sleeping for two years until it was necro'd from the grave today (And this is after being necro'd once before). It's been three years since this thread had serious discussion and some of the posters in this thread are banned or no longer around. If anyone wants to discuss this topic they can start a new thread. Thread locked.