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Why some materials have bigger refractive index than others?

  1. Feb 9, 2008 #1
    why some materials have bigger refractive index than others? Lets say why air have 1.003 refractive index, and quartz glass 1.46?
     
  2. jcsd
  3. Feb 9, 2008 #2
    The refractive index depends upon the dielectric constant and the magnetic permeability.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Refractive_index
     
  4. Feb 9, 2008 #3
    Ok, I understand something. But is it actually the atoms and molecules and their bonds?
     
  5. Feb 10, 2008 #4

    pam

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    The permittivity depends on how easy it is for an electric field to polarize the molecules.
     
  6. Feb 10, 2008 #5

    Claude Bile

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    Science Advisor

    Yes. In optical media, the refractive index depends almost exclusively on the electric permittivity of the medium, which in turn depends on the characteristics of the atomic and molecular bonds within the medium.

    Claude.
     
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