Optics is the study of light, and its interaction with matter. It includes topics such as imaging systems, fiber optics, lasers, quantum optics, and more.

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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 ...
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formula for transparency of very thin film of metal

Is there formula that gives transparency of very thin film of given metal (tens of nanometers) to the visible light/light of given wavelength ? Which properties of metals are needed for the formula ? ...
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722 views

Why are color values stored as Red, Green, Blue?

I learned in elementary school that you could get green by mixing blue with yellow. ...
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185 views

Rainbow around Sun

From the perspective of a person, a rainbow is formed when the Sun is behind the person, and there is a critical angle made by the rainbow. However, on several occasions, usually at noon when the Sun ...
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Propagation of light in transparent media: absorption and reemission or scattering?

In the two Phys.SE questions What is the mechanism behind the slowdown of light/photons in a transparent medium? and Why glass is transparent? transparent media were discussed. But I'd like to clarify ...
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441 views

How bright can we make a sun jar?

A sun jar is an object that stores solar energy in a battery and then releases it during dark hours through a led. Assume: a $65cm^2$ solar panel a 12h/12h light/dark cycle insolation of ...
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63 views

Why can colors be mixed? [duplicate]

We can combine colored light, creating other colors, at least in terms of visual perception. But how it the result physically "a different color" - if it is at all? Or is all this not a physical ...
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1answer
794 views

Analytic solution for angle of minimum deviation?

Consider a simple prism with a prism angle $A$, angle of incidence $\theta_1$, angle of emergence $\theta_4$ and the first and second angle of refraction as $\theta_2,\theta_3$. the refractive index ...
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1answer
144 views

electric field of unpolarized light after reflect?

Reflection and transmission (Fresnel equation) of polarized light are treated in many optics or electromagnetism books. If $E_s$ and $E_p$ is incident electric field with s-polarization and ...
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332 views

Difference in velocity of light in change in medium [duplicate]

It is often seen that according to physics the light changes it's velocity according to the medium through which it is traveling. So can it be explained that why so happen?
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1answer
832 views

Effects of high frequency lighting on human vision?

I have a couple of different LED flashlights. One of them has three different "modes" of brightness, and the way it controls it is via pulse width modulation (PWM). Here is a picture that illustrates ...
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1answer
667 views

Calculate the distance between two points from iPhone Camera

I want to calculate the distance between two objects using an iPhone camera. Suppose I'm standing with my iPhone 10 feet away from the objects. Now, I want to calculate the distance between those ...
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What causes insects to cast large shadows from where their feet are?

I recently stumbled upon this interesting image of a wasp, floating on water: Assuming this isn't photoshopped, I have a couple of questions: Why do you see its image like that (what's the ...
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477 views

Formulation of Transformation optics using a Material Manifold

Dear Community, recently, Transformation optics celebrates some sort of scientific revival due to its (possible) applications for cloaking, see e.g. Broadband Invisibility by Non-Euclidean Cloaking ...
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Why do things that are far away seem smaller?

As you see things that are far smaller, a funny question about this: Imagine there are many people in a row (all are same height) ...
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1k views

What is an intuitive explanation of Gouy phase?

In laser resonators, higher order modes (i.e. TEM01, etc) accumulate phase faster than the fundamental TEM00 mode. This extra phase is called Gouy phase. What is an intuitive explanation of this ...
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717 views

Can the speed of light become complex inside a metamaterial?

The speed of light in a material is defined as $c = \frac{1}{\sqrt{\epsilon \mu}}$. There are metamaterials with negative permittivity $\epsilon < 0$ and permeability $\mu < 0$ at the same time. ...
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615 views

Light “diode” and 2nd law of thermodynamics

If I had a light "diode" - an object that only allowed light (at least for a range of frequencies) to travel through it in one direction, would this necessarily allow violations of the 2nd Law of ...
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640 views

Nonlinear optics as gauge theory

the widely used approach to nonlinear optics is a Taylor expansion of the dielectric displacement field $\mathbf{D} = \epsilon_0\cdot\mathbf{E} + \mathbf{P}$ in a Fourier representation of the ...
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Fully destructive interference

I'm aware that this is somewhat of a frequently asked question (not only here), and i've dug through respective answer for a few hours before i decided to ask here. None of those answers helped me ...
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Why does a laser beam diverge?

I was wondering why a laser beam diverges. If all the photons are in the same direction, I would imagine that it would stay that way over a long distance. I am aware that a perfectly collimated beam ...
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How can I determine transmission/reflection coefficients for light?

When light rays reflect off a boundary between two materials with different indices of refraction, a lot of the sources I've seen (recently) don't discuss the relation between the amplitude (or ...
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What does an atom radiate: a wave packet or a single photon?

What does an atom radiate: a wave packet or a single photon?
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316 views

How are we able to view an object in a room with bulb..?

This is a very basic question on optics. How are we able to view an object kept in a room with a bulb? From what I understand, light rays from bulb will hit the object and some colour will be ...
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540 views

Is there a limit to the resolving power of a mirror telescope?

Like, if you flattened out Ceres to a 1 mm iron foil telescope mirror with 20x the surface area of the Sun, could you resolve details on the surface of an exoplanet? Could you make it arbitrarily ...
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1answer
108 views

Optics: Derivation of $\vec\nabla{n} = \frac{d(n\hat{u})}{ds}$

I have been given this formula from optics here, with no background: $$\vec\nabla{n} = \frac{d(n\hat{u})}{ds}$$ Where $n$ is the refractive index and $\hat{u}$ is a unit vector tangent to the path ...
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1answer
460 views

Focusing laser & off-axis illumination & diffraction limit

I've thought I had a good understanding how resolution enhancement tricks works for projection lithography, until I tried to understand if it's possible to get sub-diffraction performance for focused ...
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6k views

refractive index of air in dependence of temperature

What is the exact dependence of the refractive index of air and the temperature? Is there a theoretical derivation of it?
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187 views

A difference between Plane Wave and Collimated?

Collimation is clearly in reference to ray($\vec{k}_{xy}$ vector) orientation unlike waterfront continuity( $\phi_{xy}$ phase shift) described by plane-wave. Not to say that one is not directly ...
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Where does energy go in destructive interference? [duplicate]

I have read that when two light waves interfere destructively, the energy contained within is transferred to other parts of the wave which have interfered constructively. However, I am having some ...
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Optics of the eye - do we see Fourier transforms?

I've recently been learning about Fourier optics, specifically, that a thin lens can produce the Fourier transform of an object on a screen located in the focal plane. With this in mind, does the ...
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462 views

How does infrared light 'erase' phosphorescence on zinc sulfide?

I found some sheets of zinc sulfide in my basement that phosphoresce green for up to 24 hours or so after exposure to bright light in the violet range or shorter. One of the first things I tried was ...
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Eyes open under water

Yesterday I looked underwater with my eyes open (and no goggles) and I realized I can't see anything clearly. Everything looks very, very blurry. My guess is that the eye needs direct contact with air ...
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1answer
518 views

How are classical optics phenomena explained in QED (color)?

How is the following classical optics phenomenon explained in quantum electrodynamics? Color According to Schroedinger's model of the atom, only particular colors are emitted depending on the type ...
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Can anyone explain to me why light is not dispersed into a spectrum through a parallel glass slide, but only through a prism?

The question pretty much sums up what I need to know. Why is it that light only gets dispersed into a spectrum when travelling through two non-parallel sides(like a prism) and not through something ...
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294 views

Accuracy of various optical instruments

I understand that this may not be the type of question allowed here, but I'm not sure. Feel free to close this if you feel that it shouldn't be here I'm planning on carrying out a certain set of ...
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571 views

Half wave plate and angular momentum

Given: A half wave plate freely floating in space. Circularly polarized light, falling perpendicularly to it. The plate changes polarisation of the beam to the opposite one. Therefore it ...
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190 views

Shape of the rainbow

I have watched Walter Lewin's lecture(http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6QVbE_tU2sA) which was about the rainbows. But there is still a question bothering me. I understood the first part of the ...
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336 views

Optical Drive Physics

I have been recently wondering how is data stored on and retrieved from optical devices like CDs, DVDs, and Bluray. What makes these different storage types different from each other?
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Is it possible to witness a circular rainbow?

What conditions would make it possible to see a naturally occurring fully 360° circular rainbow? Would it even be possible?
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367 views

What is a two-photon process?

I am reading some introductory materials on modern optics, in which they mention two-photon processes everywhere. I know fundamental optics and a bit on quantum mechanics. Can anyone explain in a ...
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312 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 ...
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267 views

Why does aperture size affect depth of field in photography?

Why do small and big holes (the aperture) in a lens change the depth of field in the image? (if you have big hole you have smaller depth of field). I wondered if I should ask this on ...
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339 views

What's the mathematical background to the representation for Gaussian beams?

Background A general optical system (not necessarily having an axis of rotational symmetry) can be represented, for small deviations from a base ray, by the matrix transfer equation, $$ ...
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Focal Point vs where you see the images

I am trying to figure out where is the focal point and where is the image. I read some information online about the point where you see the image is the focal point, but however, my supervisor ...
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Is there any optical component that uniformizes the incoming light?

Is there any optical component in existence that uniformizes randomly pointing rays?
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1answer
221 views

Eikonal approximation for wave optics. Why follow the unit vector parallel to the Pointing vector?

The description of the passage from wave optics to geometrical optics claims that light rays are the integral curves of a certain vector field (the Pointing vector direction, normalized to 1). Here ...
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1answer
492 views

Calculating Kramers-Kronig using Mathematica

First of all, I know there is a Mathematica group in beta, but I don't think the problem of the following is directly a Mathematica issue. I am trying to calculate the change of the refractive index ...
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Why do mirages only appear on hot days?

A previous question asked why the road sometimes appears wet on hot days. The reason is that when there's a temperature gradient in the air, it causes a gradient in the index of refraction, causing ...
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1answer
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Why do we see laser beams?

A laser produces a coherent beam of photons with particular $\mathbf{k}$ and $\mathbf{\omega}$. So, if there is no particular $\mathbf{k}_0$ directed toward our eyes, why do we see laser beams? I ...