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.

learn more… | top users | synonyms

6
votes
3answers
163 views

How big would a solar sail need to be to be detected from the orbit of Pluto?

Suppose we made a solar sail out of a highly reflective material. How big would that solar sail have to be for the Hubble Space Telescope to detect it visually at the average distance of Pluto?
6
votes
2answers
104 views

How would you figure some of the methods (in order of importance) to take a picture of the supersonic bullet with the wave it produce in 1888?

It would still be almost impossible for me in 21th century to take this picture: (image courtesy of wikipedia) How would you figure some of the methods (in order of importance) to take a picture ...
6
votes
1answer
5k views

Why are lasers inefficient?

Why are lasers inefficient? Is it because of the heat lost during lasing? Why couldn't there be thermocouples or turbines in parts of the cooling circuits to extract something out of that heat?
6
votes
2answers
2k views

If I reflect light from a projector using a mirror, then is the reflected image real or virtual?

I am in a great confusion about this question. In our school, we have been taught that: A real image is an image which can be obtained on a screen. It is always inverted. A virtual image is ...
6
votes
5answers
3k views

Explain reflection laws at the atomic level

The "equal angles" law of refection on a flat mirror is a macroscopic phenomenon. To put it in anthropomorphic terms, how do individual photons know the orientation of the mirror so as to bounce off ...
6
votes
1answer
398 views

Can a photon exhibit multiple frequencies?

Can a photon be a superposition of multiple frequency states? Kind of similar to how an electron can be a superposition of multiple spin states.
6
votes
2answers
2k views

What are the differences in using an eyepiece with a barlow instead of a shorter eyepiece?

I intend to start making visual observations, and I want to know more about the difference between using barlow lenses and one or two eyepieces and using a complete kit of eyepieces, both for ...
6
votes
2answers
310 views

What makes a good set of binoculars? [closed]

After trying a bunch of binoculars at Star Parties and the like, I have a pretty good feel for about what aperture and magnification I'd like in a new set binoculars. I'm an eyeglass wearer so a long ...
6
votes
3answers
832 views

Recently publicized experiment on destructive interference between two laser beams

Recently I've had several non-physicist friends ask me, independently of each other, about an experiment where two collinear laser beams destructively interfere along a certain length. Everybody wants ...
6
votes
3answers
873 views

How can we describe the polarization (of light) coming from an arbitrary angle?

In an optics lab, where all optical beams pretty much reside in a plane, it is fairly simple to describe (linear) polarizations as vertical or horizontal (or s and p). When we start talking about ...
6
votes
1answer
9k views

Optical microscope magnification limits?

Optical microscopes are quoted as having a maximum magnification of 1500x to 2000x - what is this calculated from?
6
votes
4answers
627 views

Far-field intensity from scattering of small particles

Howdy, I'm building a simulation for looking at the light field underwater. In order to verify my simulation, I'm looking for some data showing the far-field intensity that comes from single ...
6
votes
2answers
208 views

References for Radio Imaging?

I'm really intrigued by a bunch of questions like 'what do radio waves look like?' 'how much RF radiation is there in the town I live in?' 'how specifically does RF imaging work?' But I think I need ...
6
votes
2answers
2k views

What does Lijun Wang's experiment about supraluminal speed of light in a medium mean?

This is a summary from Physics World of the paper: L J Wang et al. 2000 Nature 406 277-- "Wang and colleagues begin by using a third continuous-wave laser to confirm that there are two peaks in the ...
6
votes
4answers
310 views

Explanation of Michelson Interferometer Fringe Shift

I have been working on an experiment where 2 glass microscope slides are pinched together at one end (so that there is a "wedge" of air between them) and placed in the path of a laser in one leg of a ...
6
votes
1answer
97 views

How deep is a rainbow?

My cousin shot this photo of a rainbow in front of a mountain. In the picture it is clear that the mountain is behind the rainbow (the rainbow blocks the view of the mountain), whereas the nearby ...
6
votes
2answers
229 views

Is manufacturing roughness really the only reason we don't see optical interference in thick dielectrics like windows?

I had always kind of wondered why we didn't see interference in things like windows -- we were taught that the condition is that the thickness of the film/slab/medium just has to be an integral number ...
6
votes
2answers
123 views

Collinearity of two infrared (10.6um) beams

I'm interested in aligning two infrared (10.6um) beams so that they are as collinear as possible. What is the best way to do this while maintaining the polarization of the two beams? Is there a ...
6
votes
2answers
1k views

Why does a glass window reflect white objects white from an atomic scatterers’ viewpoint?

Related: Is a white object always white? If you are standing in front of a glass window during the day, you can see your dim white t-shirt’s reflection in the window. The reflection is dim because ...
6
votes
1answer
233 views

Reflectivity of a glowing-hot metal surface

When a polished piece of metal (or steel in particular) is heated to incandescence, how do its reflective properties change? Given a mirror-like surface, would the object temporarily cease to act ...
6
votes
2answers
1k views

High school double lens optics question

This is a first year high school homework question (in the Finnish high school), and I'm having serious trouble solving it. I apologize for possible non-standard terms: I'm doing the translation from ...
6
votes
4answers
5k views

Focusing light into an optical fiber cable

I'm trying to focus light from a flashing light lamp throught two lens into a optical fiber cable which is around 0.8cm in diameter. flashing light: a bulb and then covered by a glass of 7.5cm x 7cm ...
6
votes
3answers
455 views

Is apparent horizon curvature lesser due to refraction of light in the atmosphere?

I have encountered this claim while searching for sources answering " Can we see the curvature of earth from the top of world's tallest building? ". Wikipedia article on horizon claims (with no ...
6
votes
2answers
433 views

polarization of the lower mode gaussian beam

In most introductory analysis of Gaussian beam optics, Helmoltz scalar optics is assumed. Hence polarisation is ignored. But I'm not clear what are the possible orientations for the lower transverse ...
6
votes
2answers
5k views

How do head mounted displays simulate infinite focus?

First, when I say infinite focus, I am using the term from photography, perhaps incorrectly. Secondly, I believe am not talking about convergence, but about focus. If I am not mistaken, with ...
6
votes
2answers
675 views

Optimal Angular Field of View (AFOV)

Given the rather huge price differences between eye pieces at the same focal length. How exactly does the AFOV affect the view seen through the eyepiece? Are higher / lower AFOV better for certain ...
6
votes
2answers
9k views

How does the grid on the microwave oven window prevent microwave radiation from coming out?

If I look through the microwave window I can see through, which means visible radiation can get out. We know also that there is a mesh on the microwave window which prevents microwave from coming out. ...
6
votes
1answer
438 views

Are two polarization states of light coherent?

Let's consider a situation: we have distant point source of unpolarized light in certain non-zero range of wavelengths (it's polychromatic). Let's divide this light into 2 beams depending on ...
6
votes
1answer
859 views

What does the Rayleigh Phase Function tell us

I am working on some radiative transfer equations, and struggling as I'm fairly new to this field. I have read about the Rayleigh Phase Function which is: $P(\theta) = \frac{3}{4}(1 + cos^2 \theta)$ ...
6
votes
2answers
301 views

Shot noise at high frequencies (can it really be ideal white noise?)

Quantum shot noise (either optical intensity noise or electrical current noise) described by the noise spectral density of $2 e I$ (electrically) or $2 h \nu P$ (optically). So it is white noise. I ...
6
votes
1answer
310 views

Why Negative refractive index is negative

$n=\sqrt{\epsilon \mu }$ Negative refractive index happens when permittivity ($\epsilon $) and permeability ($\mu $)of a material is negative. My question is, if permittivity and permeabilitity of a ...
6
votes
2answers
401 views

Concerning Scattering Intensity and Particle Concentration

I am trying to determine what governs my sensor output. I have an optical sensor that emits infrared radiation on a sample volume and gives me a voltage output from the scattering of (1 to 10 micron) ...
6
votes
2answers
537 views

How can I estimate the elasto-optic coefficients ($p_{11}$ and $p_{12}$) of a material?

I am attempting to estimate the elasto-optic coefficients ($p_{11}$ and $p_{12}$) of $\mathrm{TiO}_2$ and $\mathrm{ZrO}_2$, where $p_{11}$ and $p_{12}$ refer to the elements of a strain-optic tensor ...
6
votes
1answer
534 views

Boundary Conditions Invariant Under Conformal Transformations in Electrostatics?

in two dimensional electrostatics it is assumed that the whole physical system is translationally invariant in one direction. Here, the two-dimensional Laplace equation $$\Delta \phi(x,y) = ...
6
votes
3answers
293 views

Examples in which the light maximizes the optical path length

I posted a similar question about geodesics on Math.SE. Many sources (Wikibooks for instance) claim that the light could maximize the optical path length in some cases. But I don't think it's actually ...
6
votes
1answer
867 views

The skin effect and the reflectivity of gold

I am simulating a waveguide in COMSOL, a FEM solver. My model looks like this (it is similar to a standard Quantum Cascade Laser geometry): Therefore there is a very thin (30nm) layer of gold ...
6
votes
1answer
292 views

Can solar furnace achieve higher temperature than sun surface? [duplicate]

Can solar furnace achieve higher temperature than sun surface? I guess not, but I'm not sure about that. Can you check my reasoning: -------- My reasoning ----------- Consider Sun as a black body ...
6
votes
1answer
130 views

3D coherence of light speckles- difference between Airy and gaussian speckles

In this article, http://www.dfm.uninsubria.it/laboferri/web_page/articoli_pdf/PRA_2009-Magatti-Three_dimensional_coherence_of_light_speckles-experiment.pdf, the 3D-coherence properties of light ...
6
votes
1answer
487 views

How do I use the electro-optic tensor?

I would like to calculate the performance of an optical phase modulator, in which a varying electric field across a crystal modulates the effective refractive index of light passing through the ...
6
votes
2answers
2k views

Converting between brilliance, intensity, and flux

This one should be a bit of a softball, but I can't find it explicitly stated anywhere on the internet, and my basic unit analysis doesn't seem to work. Suppose you have a beam of synchrotron ...
6
votes
1answer
194 views

Why is $\textbf{D}$ the response to $\textbf{E}$?

In the text Wooten, equation 2.69 shows $\textbf{D}$ being the response to $\textbf{E}$ with $\epsilon$ as the response function: $$ \textbf{D}(\textbf{r},t) = \int d\textbf{r}^{\prime} \int ...
6
votes
0answers
288 views

Why can I turn light red or blue by holding my finger up to it?

This is a difficult phenomenon to explain. Imagine you have an opaque object partially covering a very bright light source, for example, an object held up against the sky. The left hand diagram is ...
6
votes
0answers
186 views

How would we see the earth if refraction of light was significantly stronger?

On worldbuilding.SE there is a question about the cosmological consequences of a world with super-high refraction and atmosphere opaqueness. I'm assuming the easiest way to minimally change the laws ...
6
votes
2answers
154 views

At Interfaces Does Light Have to Accelerate?

First, I'm not sure if photons have to "get up to" the speed of light, or if they are thrown into existence at that speed. I know that they should just be generated moving at their speed, and I know ...
6
votes
0answers
379 views

Is optical-illusion responsible for Loch Ness monster? [closed]

When you look out at the white-caps on a wind-swept lake, you can see a dark, undulating pattern under the crests of the white-caps. Could this shadow-like area explain the sightings? Revised, see ...
6
votes
6answers
818 views

Is antumbra part of shadow darker than penumbra part of shadow?

I'm exploring different types of shadows casted by objects. I want to know if antumbra part of a shadow is darker than penumbra part. I've found two misleading pictures on Wikipedia: First: Second: ...
6
votes
1answer
241 views

How does one align a laser using two adjustable mirrors?

Suppose we would like to get a laser beam to pass through a particular point in space in a particular direction. At our disposal we have a laser, two adjustable mirrors (can rotate up/down and ...
5
votes
5answers
6k views

How to bend light?

As we all know that light travels in rectilinear motion. But can we bend light in parabolic path? If not practically then is it possible in paper? Has anyone succeeded in doing that practically ?
5
votes
2answers
1k views

Can spectacles converge sunlight to an extent that it burns the eyeball?

I need to know whether wearing spectacles can cause optical harm. I saw a movie where one pair of glasses was placed on table exposed to sunlight, then the sunlight converged and focused to a point ...
5
votes
5answers
523 views

How much light can pass through a point?

Analogy: an infinite number of lines can pass through a point. Is there a limit on the number of lasers that can pass through a point? Obviously, with lasers the “point” would be a sphere with the ...