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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Polarization of Light

How do materials polarize light? I know that they polarize light in the same plane, but light has two perpendicular directions with the two fields, so which direction is reflected and why? And if ...
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637 views

Why can't I see far when I look in a mirror?

I'm myopic. It's a fact. I understand exactly how it works because Internet told me light rays encounter themeselves too soon in my eyes... that is why I can't see far objects even if I see near ...
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Numerical software to manipulate a light beam in its plane wave representation?

Any light field can be expressed as a sum of plane waves. Such an ensemble of plane waves is called the plane wave spectrum of the light field. The plane wave spectrum is the Fourier transform of the ...
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Diffraction through one slit?

When Thomas Young first conducted his double slit experiment to prove the wave nature of light, he shone light through two slits, creating an interference pattern. Apparently he then covered up one ...
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What's the name for taking pictures of air flow in a normal room?

There is a way to photograph air in a room. It makes convection, breathing and movement visible. The result looks a bit like a soap bubble. This is some kind of optical effect. No special gases or ...
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Is the IoR of water exactly $4/3$?

The index of refraction of water is commonly cited as $n \approx 1.33$, to varying numbers of decimal places. I've never seen a decimal expansion for this value with any digit other than $3$ past the ...
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Why does sea colour differ from place to place?

If you notice the colour of sea changes from place to place. At some places it is of blue or green and even different in beach. What must be the reason?
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177 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 ...
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What is the difference between surface plasmon and surface plasmon polariton?

I'm trying to understand this reading article linked below and I still don't know how to explain this simply, without need to derive everything mathematically. Can someone just write here how do SP's ...
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666 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 ...
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641 views

Three polarizers, 45° apart

If light is passed through two polarizing filters before arriving at a target, and both of the filters are oriented at 90° to each other, then no light will be received at the target. If a third ...
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Counterpropagating beams in a ring cavity lasers

Ring cavity lasers usually has a intracavity element like a optical diode to forbid standing wave pattern and, consequently, spacial hole burning and related instabilities. So, my question is: why to ...
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Human eyes vs aberrations

There are no perfect lenses in nature. Aberrations of some kind will always be there. But why healthy human eyes circumvent this issue? Or, are there any aberrations we don't "see?"
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intensifying a light source

When trying to intensify a beam of light by refracting it through a lens, (as in a lighthouse fresnel system or similar railroad style switch lamp from years past), is the beam intensity increased by ...
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Has anyone developed tunable notch filters in the visible RGB wavelengths which have very fast response times?

I am interested in whether the combination of a spectrometer and a tunable notch filter with notch frequencies at the visible red, green and blue wavelengths which have very fast response times could ...
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156 views

Is this a photograph of an electron-positron annihilation? [closed]

With degrees in Mechanical and Electrical engineering but no advanced education in physics, I submit a query based on ellipsometric macro photography of TEMS supplied by FDA/NIH. In one TEM a ...
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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 ...
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161 views

Light entering in a 0° angle, is there any reflection?

Is there any reflection of light that enters a new medium at a 0° angle, if the electric field is such, that it is completely in the plane of the double layer?
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136 views

Optics, lenses and our eyes

When we view an image, is the focal point of our eye on our retina? Shouldn't that hurt? Also, if that is how our eye works, then why don't lenses put the focal point their equivalent retina? I was ...
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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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Why do we stop using optics for photons above a certain energy?

I'm reading about how the soon-to-be-launched NuSTAR is on the cutting edge of focusing x-rays, which captures 5 to 80 keV radiation by focusing them with optics that have a 10.15 meter focal length ...
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317 views

Fermat principle: which index of refraction?

I am somewhat puzzled by a common formulation of the Fermat principle (light travel time), because it contains index of refraction related to phase velocity while light travel time through a slab of ...
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535 views

Polarization rotation: Jones Matrix that maps Horizontal to right circular

I am looking at the Poincaré sphere and I am trying to compute a Jones matrix for a particular rotation. Specifically, I would like it to perform the following maps: $O :|H \rangle \rightarrow |R ...
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551 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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167 views

Reflected optical rotation of polarised light

Assume polarised light travels through an optically active medium (e.g. water with lots of sugar) with the specific angle $\alpha_s$ of depth $d$ at which end it is reflected (so in total it travels ...
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506 views

Compound lenses and virtual images

Ok so I have this problem where I have a system of two lenses. All I know is that the distance between the object and the first lens is 30cm, the distance between the object and the final image is ...
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674 views

Virtual images in (plane) mirrors?

The following image is taken from teaching physics lecture Was man aus virtuellen Bildern lernen kann (in German): Now the cited paper claims that the left hand side is the correct picture to ...
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How to determine divergence of a LED source from a single biconvex lens

I'm trying to determine the divergence angle of light from a single lens that is completely illuminated by a high power LED. Most optics textbooks only deal with imaging optics and I'm having a hard ...
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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 ...
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How is the theory of partial coherent light related to quantum-mechanics?

Background Let me start this question by a long introduction, because I assume that only few readers will be familiar with the theory of partial coherent light and concepts like a mutual coherence ...
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776 views

Sign convention for mirror and lens formulas

I have just started learning optics at school and my teacher derived the lens and mirror formulas. While doing so, she applied the sign convention for $u$, $v$ and $f$ and arrived at the final ...
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571 views

Does optical fiber preserve the angles of incoming light?

I am reading up on optical fibers and there's one thing I haven't understood yet: Does an optical fiber preserve the angles of incoming light? For example, if we light two LEDs in front of an ...
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183 views

How does light pass through rough glass?

Light incident on a rough surface will be diffuse after passing it. Angular intensity depends on the grinding of the glass surface. I'm trying to find information about the scattering indicatrix of ...
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215 views

Mirror image at relativistic speeds

Imagine moving parallel to the surface of a very large flat mirror at relativistic speeds. What would be the effect of viewing yourself in the mirror? At non-relativistic speeds your image would be ...
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136 views

Non reciprocal light propagation

In search for some explanation in why magneto-optical materials (like the one used in the Faraday rotator and, consequently, in the "optical diode") act in such a "strange" way, I saw that this kind ...
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Physical explanation for why total internal reflection occurs

I have been trying to understand total internal reflection (and have read several posts on this site already). Mathematically, I feel that I understand how the evanescent wave decays exponentially as ...
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347 views

Do wide-angle videos make the first-person view seem slower than perceived in real life?

I considered posting this on other SE sites such as Audio-Video Production and Photography, but I didn't feel I'd get the definitive, fact-based (rather than experience-based) answer I'm seeking. ...
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477 views

Question about Rayleigh scattering

To quote from Wikipedia on elastic scattering, "In this scattering process, the energy (and therefore the wavelength) of the incident photon is conserved and only its direction is changed." How does ...
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How to find the principal point in an image?

I need to find the principal point in an image. Its a point where the principal axis intersects the image sensor. Due to misalignment this point is not at the center of image always(or image sensor). ...
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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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In interferometry, what is the origin of the name “Airy function”?

In interferometry (specifically, in the domain of Fabry-Perot cavities), the function $$f(\phi) = \frac{1}{1 + F \sin^2 \phi}$$ , which describes the shape of the resonant structure of the cavity, is ...
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Will overlapping two different beams of coherent light cause interference?

I have two laser beams with same polarization running parallel to each other. Will they interfere? If yes, then what are the conditions (perpendicular distance etc) and how can I observe the ...
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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 ...
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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 ...
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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 ...
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207 views

How can some optical microscopes measure height differences of different sample planes with nanometer accuracy?

I could use last week an optical microscope, didn't seem special in any way, 50x magnification, image viewable per a CCD camera on a computer screen besides through the ocular. But the software of ...
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234 views

Filter out polarized light

Unpolarized light enters the polarizer and gets polarized at one certain angle. If we place an analyzer behind the polarizer and align them, we observe that all light is transmitted. If we rotate the ...
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200 views

On the optics of high-resolution surveillance drones

In this youtube video (which is an except from a documentation I believe) a DARPA development for a high-resolution surveillance camera is presented. This question is regarding the optics that are ...
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Adaptive Optics Capability in the Visible Range

Telescopes with adaptive optics (AO) have been in use for several decades. To my knowledge, the lowest wavelengths utilized are in the near-infrared. It's known that Fried parameters are smaller for ...
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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 ...