Diffraction is defined as the bending or flaring of light around the corners of an obstacle or aperture into the region of geometrical shadow of the obstacle. This flaring is consistent with the spreading of wavelets in the Huygens construction. Diffraction occurs for waves of all types, not just ...

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How does light bend around my finger tip?

When I close one eye and put the tip of my finger near my open eye, it seems as if the light from the background image bends around my finger slightly, warping the image near the edges of my blurry ...
125
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6answers
13k views

Why do shadows from the sun join each other when near enough?

I was laying on my bed, reading a book when the sun shone through the windows on my left. I happened to look at the wall on my right and noticed this very strange effect. The shadow of my elbow, when ...
28
votes
9answers
24k views

Why does wavelength affect diffraction?

I have seen many questions of this type but I could nowhere find the answer to "why". I know this is a phenomenon which has been seen and discovered and we know it happens and how it happens. But my ...
20
votes
2answers
792 views

Optimal telescope size?

Consider a diffraction-limited telescope with unobstructed aperture $D$. Such a scope is capable of yielding an angular resolution $\alpha$ that scales as $\lambda/D$, with $\lambda$ denoting the ...
17
votes
4answers
3k views

Trying to combine red, green and blue to produce white

I tried to mimic the mechanism of typical screens to produce white color out of red, green and blue. What I did is displayed the attached image on the screen, and moved far away as to let the ...
16
votes
3answers
321 views

Does the diffracted electron radiate photons?

When electron is diffracted after the slit it might follow different direction, than before the slit. That means, that going through the slit it gains some acceleration. And accelerated charge emits ...
14
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2answers
2k views

Amateur moon laser ranging

Questions first, then my rough estimations: 1) Is it possible to perform moon laser ranging with amateur motorized 114mm telescope? My calculations suggest that for 1mJ laser it should receive ~2 ...
14
votes
2answers
1k views

Why are electromagnetic waves not able to pass through a hole with a diameter smaller than the wavelength? [duplicate]

I am doing research on Faraday cages for school, and I want to know how it works. Faraday cages can have holes in them, and if the diameter is smaller than the wavelength of waves you want to block, ...
12
votes
2answers
412 views

Is diffraction affected by interaction between photons and electrons?

Suppose we take a sheet of ordinary metal, make a narrow slit in it, and shine a light beam through the slit onto a screen. The light beam will diffract from the edges of the slit and spread out onto ...
9
votes
2answers
366 views

Wavelength used in manufacturing of integrated circuits (IC)

How is it that the silicon ICs industry can burn ICs of a dozen nanometers using photolytography with UV laser of about 193 nanometers? Since the gates are smaller than the wavelength, for example ...
9
votes
1answer
463 views

How fat is Feynman’s photon?

According to my calculations, it is a lot skinnier than Airy’s photon, but still a whole lot fatter than a straight line. So, how does a photon get from point A to Point B? The ray optics ...
8
votes
6answers
3k views

Why does a wave actually diffract?

I know that waves diffract around a slit and this is due to the Huygens-Fresnel principle. But I never understand this in an intuitive wave that why does a wave become a spherical wave front at the ...
8
votes
1answer
222 views

Why is my shadow deformed and not the shadow of the ceiling? [duplicate]

Look at these two photos of my shadow from sunlight. Case 1: My shadow is separated from the shadow of the ceiling and my head is round. Case 2: But when I walk a little more and the shadow of my ...
7
votes
1answer
224 views

Is Huygen's Principle Axiomatic?

Is Huygens Principle just a fundamental way to understand light? It always seemed to me that it was somehow "derived" or that it should be-but is it simply a well-founded theory?
7
votes
1answer
413 views

Self-Accelerating wavepackets: What are they and can they impulse a spaceship?

Nature today published a (paywalled) article that mentions 'Self-accelerating Dirac wavepackets'. They claim that they behave in a similar fashion as the diffractive tricks of polarized beams that ...
7
votes
3answers
221 views

Is that a result of thin-film interference?

Several years ago, I was laying on my bed and had a CD shaped transparent plastic disk (which was covering a 100 CD stack), basically a transparent CD. I don't know why but I took my phone and took a ...
7
votes
2answers
1k views

Calculating diffraction patterns using FFT

I'm trying to write a piece of code that calculates a diffraction pattern similar to an X-ray experiment using a FFT. From my knowledge, the diffraction pattern for point particles can be calculated ...
6
votes
1answer
392 views

Will a football (soccer) diffract? [duplicate]

Apparently all objects have wavelike properties, so, if we kick a football (soccer ball, if you must) through a pair of posts, does the ball in any sense diffract? If this is ridiculous then let me ...
6
votes
5answers
16k views

How can a single slit diffraction produce an interference pattern?

How can a light passed though a single slit produce a similar interference pattern to the double-slit experiment? How does the diffracted wave produce the points of cancellation and reinforcement, if ...
5
votes
4answers
19k views

Difference Between Fraunhofer and Fresnel Diffraction

What is the difference between Fraunhofer diffraction and Fresnel diffraction? I mean diffraction is just bending of light waves or waves in general around a point. So how can there be two types of ...
5
votes
4answers
838 views

Why does light diffract only through slits?

We can see diffraction of light if we allow light to pass through a slit, but why doesn't diffraction occur if we obstruct light using some other object, say a block? Why are shadows formed? Why ...
5
votes
4answers
239 views

Why can't we perfectly focus light-abberations aside

I don't understand why there is necessarily a diffraction limitation on optical systems. Where does this limitation in focusing light come from?
5
votes
4answers
179 views

Possibility of making an experiment in a classroom to simulate DNA diffraction

I am a TA in a structural chemistry class. The professor want me to show students how Watson and Crick determined the structure of DNA from X-ray diffraction results of DNA crystals. The professor ...
5
votes
4answers
549 views

Is it possible to surpass the diffraction limit for telescopes?

Telescopes have angular diffraction limit depending on the observed wavelength and aperture diameter. I've read that it's possible to go beyond the limit for microscopes. But is it possible to do the ...
5
votes
1answer
1k views

How can the Huygens-Fresnel principle be derived from the Maxwell equations?

The Huygens-Fresnel principle states that every point to which a luminous disturbance reaches becomes a source of a spherical wave. I have been trying to understand this considering a infinite screen ...
5
votes
1answer
67 views

Diffraction Pattern when not perpendicular

In single slit diffraction, we always assume that our waves are perpendicularly aimed towards the slit. But what if we aimed our waves with different angles ( for example 60 deg)? If we send the ...
5
votes
2answers
977 views

What's the physical significance of using fourier transform for diffraction?

I am studying some basic idea of diffraction and there mention in far field, the diffraction pattern could be understood by Fourier transform. But I just don't understand what's the physical fact for ...
5
votes
0answers
189 views

Why is this way of calculating the diffraction pattern valid?

I've seen that in some books (Fowles) the intensity of the diffraction pattern is calculated in the following way. We place the source $S$ and the point at the screen $P$ in the line perpendicular ...
5
votes
2answers
230 views

Smaller Airy disk with another lens?

Is it possible to reduce the airy disk size produced by one lens with another lens placed after the previous one? For example, parallel ray incident on first lens L1 (without aberration), then there ...
4
votes
4answers
402 views

How can beam divergence be corrected for in a CO2 laser cutter?

I have a 90W RECI CO2 laser tube that I recently measured the beam divergence on. This was done by pointing the laser at a fire brick and melting it for a few seconds at different distances. Multiple ...
4
votes
3answers
113 views

Why don't fogbows appear on clouds?

As far as I know clouds are lot of small droplets condensed in air. If droplets are large enough we see a rainbow. If they are small we see a fogbow. Although the size of the droplets are big enough ...
4
votes
2answers
1k views

Does diffraction occur before interference?

In the double slit experiment, light passes through two slits and the waves interfere and form an interference pattern. A single slit is required for diffraction. So, I was thinking about whether ...
4
votes
1answer
711 views

Diffraction Pattern on LCD Screen

I was up late working with my red LED headlamp on and when I was looking at the black part of my LCD (Apple Retina Macbook Pro) screen I noticed this interesting diffraction pattern. I'm confused ...
4
votes
4answers
4k views

Young's Double Slit Experiment : What would happen if the “first slit” was too wide?

I was wondering what would happen to the fringe pattern displayed on the screen if the first slit (as shown in the picture), which is also known as "single slit", was made a bit wider. I read it in ...
4
votes
3answers
3k views

Why does a CD work as a diffraction grating even with light from a light bulb?

I have a really hard time solving the following problem I accidentally came across today. Looking at the back of a usual CD one sees coloured bands. This is explained by the fact that the surface ...
4
votes
2answers
276 views

What are the lines visible between two cards held edge-to-edge?

Hold two cards (say credit cards) edge to edge, anything from a very slight touch to about 1/3 mm separation, in front of any ordinary light source. When I do this I see several fine dark parallel ...
4
votes
6answers
855 views

What happens to waves when they hit smaller apertures than their wavelenghts?

I was wondering this for quite a long time now. Let's say you have a water wave (like ripples, not the ones you see during tsunamis) with wavelength 10 m. Imagine you put a boundary with an opening of ...
4
votes
2answers
310 views

Huygen's principle in EM waves

In trying to understand diffraction, I keep coming across Huygen's principle as the why behind diffraction, and I think I understand the principle itself all right. However, I was hoping to find an ...
4
votes
2answers
3k views

Fresnel distance and Geometrical limit

I read about the geometrical limit of wave theory. The source from where I read had a slightly different explanation to provide than here(The more rigorous answer is too complicated for me to ...
4
votes
2answers
66 views

Refraction, diffraction or reflection of human voice

Why is possible to hear in an open space someone's voice even if he's not facing me? Is it because of refraction, diffraction or reflection of the sound wave?
4
votes
1answer
81 views

Beating the Diffraction Limit with NSOM

I am trying to understand exactly why we can beat the diffraction limit when using near-field scanning optical microscopy (NSOM). For those who aren't familiar with NSOM, check out this article: ...
4
votes
2answers
692 views

Diffraction by small holes

This is a follow-up to this question: What happens to waves when they hit smaller apertures than their wavelenghts? Hans Bethe wrote a paper in 1944, "Theory of Diffraction by Small Holes," Phys. ...
4
votes
1answer
9k views

Relationship between slit size and wavelength in diffraction

Almost in every book on physics we can find a statement like "diffraction gets stronger when the size of the slit is comparable to the wavelength". Let's say we have a wall in a bathtub with a slit in ...
4
votes
2answers
162 views

Diffraction pattern when wavelength tends to zero

While studying about Fresnel and Fraunhofer diffraction, I came across a statement which says that the fringes disappears and the image would take on the limiting shape of the aperture when wavelength ...
4
votes
2answers
496 views

Inverse Fourier Transform Of K-space Image…what is the object space scale?

Checked around a buch and could not find any help. But I needed help with: Understanding that if I get the Inverse FT of K-space data, what is the scaling on the X-space (object space) resultant ...
4
votes
2answers
590 views

Effect of a wavefront deformation on the far-field diffraction pattern of a TEM00

By performing Matlab simulations on a TEM00 mode (approximated by a gaussian intensity profile with a flat wavefront), I got the impression that applying wavefront deformations (such as a single ...
4
votes
3answers
322 views

Diffraction of matter waves

By considering the De Broglie wavelength of particles, we discover that matter can diffract if passed through openings with itself. This poses a variety of questions, namely Can matter waves ...
4
votes
1answer
108 views

Is diffraction through an aperture similar to diffraction by a plane of atoms?

I'm asking because I have a problem asking me what the diffraction pattern would be if instead of spherical atoms I'd have triangular atoms. I can't find anything about this in my X-ray diffraction ...
4
votes
1answer
844 views

Young's double slit experiment viva question

My professor asked me (in my viva exam), "If, in the Fraunhofer single slit diffraction experiment, if we have 2 slits instead of one (at very short distances), What would happen?" I answered with ...
4
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1answer
199 views

Diffraction and $k$-space

Regarding diffraction I am a little bit lost reading about reciprocal space and the space of $k$'s. As I understand it the Fourier relationship between a wavepacket $\Psi(\vec r,t)$ and the complex ...