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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How are X-rays focused? Specifically in XRD. Well do they even focus X-rays in XRD?

I read in a government website that reflecting an x-ray from a parabolic mirror followed by a reflection from a hyperbolic mirror results in focusing the x-ray, but this was for astronomical purposes. ...
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How do “holographic plates” work?

I asked a question about laser stage lighting over at Audio Video Production, and received an excellent answer that explained that laser clusters are generated from a single beam via something called ...
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Why does light reflect more intensely when it hits a surface at a large angle?

I mean, what is happening at a microscopic level to cause this behavior? Here's what I got from Wikipedia: On Reflection (physics)#Reflection of light it says that "solving Maxwell's equations for a ...
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Why is diamond transparent while graphite is not?

Diamond and graphite are both made of the same atom, carbon. Diamond has a tetrahedron structure while graphite has a flat hexagonal structure. Why is diamond transparent while graphite is not (at ...
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187 views

what happens inside linear polarizer sheet (at microscopic level) when unpolarized light falls on it?

(1) What happens at microscopic level when unpolarized light falls on a linear polarizer sheet ? i.e. Due to what thing inside polarizer sheet, only those EM waves are passed whose plane of vibration ...
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Why doesn't the sun reflect off Earth's oceans from space like a billiard ball?

According to Phil Plait, Earth is proportionally smoother than a billiard ball (http://blogs.discovermagazine.com/badastronomy/2008/09/08/ten-things-you-dont-know-about-the-earth). The water surface ...
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105 views

On unfocused images, their information content and possible restoration

So, when an image is out of focus the light of any given point of the object does not refocus exactly at one point on the screen, but is spread out around a region, such that the light of the image at ...
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169 views

Real limits on the maximum obtainable resolution of an optical system

The maximum obtainable angular resolution of an optical system with some given aperture is well known, but it seems to me that this isn't a real theoretical limit. The assumption is that you are going ...
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A photon travels in space for 10 billion years. What are the odds it will arrive here without interacting with a atom on the way?

Space isn't a perfect vacuum and I wonder how an image of a galaxy can travel billions of years without becoming diffused by photon collisions with space matter?
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Jones vector and matrices

With Jones vectors and matrices one can describe the change in polarization of a EM wave. What is the convention of the reference coordinate system; Is it fixed or does it change whenever the ...
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120 views

Filming light in motion?

Regarding this video http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Y_9vd4HWlVA, which claims to "film" light in its motion. Is it not an absolute nonsense? Even if photons could even be "seen" (meaning, returning ...
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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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386 views

How to place a mirror parallel to a wall?

For one of my experimental setup I need to place a mirror perfectly parallel to a wall. It can be placed at any distance from the wall. I would like to use any method other than direct measurement. I ...
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310 views

Determining the refractive index of a foil

(59th Polish Olympiad in Physics, final stage, experimental part, 2010) You have at your disposal: a sample of blue foil of a homogeneous material, placed between two glass panes in a ...
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713 views

Beam splitters and Mach-Zender interferometers

I have a question (my very first here) related to 50/50 beam splitters as used in the Mach-Zehnder interferometers (see for example the Wikipedia page). Let's concentrate on the input beam splitter: ...
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Optimal slit width in Young's double slit experiment

I'm trying to do Young's double slit experiment at home. Note that I don't have a laser, only a torch. I could get a bulb or use a candle though, if it helps I built the slits by cutting into a ...
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Clarification needed in the concept of apparent depth & real depth

I understood the concept of apparent depth from here: But one thing I didn't understand is, will there be difference in the real depth and apparent depth when we are looking not at an angle as ...
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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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165 views

Why does Feynman say that Huygens' principle is not correct for optics?

I am reading Feynman's famous paper Space-Time Approach to Non-Relativistic Quantum Mechanics, and in section 7 he says: Actually, Huygens' principle is not correct in optics. It is replaced by ...
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76 views

A Difficulty with Liquid Metal Mirror Telescopes

"Another difficulty is that a liquid metal mirror can only be used in zenith telescopes" [Wiki] Why is that? Why can't a series of flat mirrors be used to reflect light coming from any angle to be ...
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234 views

Is a Perfect/Lossless Mirror possible?

In traditional mirrors, some of the input light is absorbed by atoms in the mirrors surface and are 'lost' as heat, degrading the quality of the reflected image. Could this loss be compensated by an ...
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108 views

Capture reflecting image

Suppose you have following installation: ...
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140 views

Why does static electricity not make a charged body reflective?

If mirrors work by deflecting photons by free electrons in surface layer of mirror, so it could be possible to take a glass pane and provide it with extra free electrons by giving it massive static ...
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551 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 ...
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790 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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223 views

Optics Paradox?

Imagine we have two lens, one convex and one concave, spaced in such a way that the convex lens is before the concave lens. Now each lens has its own focus length and both are spaced such that the ...
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228 views

What sets the resolution on analog film?

When taking a picture with old fashioned film what sets the resolution of the picture? Is it the wavelength, or the chemical makeup of the film?
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Newton's color Disk

How does Newton's color disk work? Newton's disk - Take a circular white color disk, make 7 equal intersections and paint section with respective VIBGYOR colors, now when you spin the disk in certain ...
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80 views

Why are UV protective eyeware Orange?

Many industrial processes use uv as a curing agent. When one uses such a process, one must protect one's eyes from the radiation. Most uv protective gear I have seen is tinted orange? Does this ...
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115 views

Why is optical orbital angular momentum (OAM) called “topological charge”?

The terminology "topological charge" is frequent in lots of research papers related to optical vortex or optical OAM, it is used to represent the optical OAM. Why? How to comprehend it?
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Why does light travel in a straight line through a liquid?

So I was reading a document that stated that when traveling through a material (I'll use a liquid here, maybe water), a photon actually always traveled at 300,000 km/s, it was just that it ...
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457 views

Question about the wave nature of light

I quote from my textbook, " Consider two vertical slits S1 and S2 placed parallel to each other, and a string is passed through them. The end B is fixed and A is given jerks perpendicular to its ...
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What is the minimum optical power detectable by human eye?

If one is in complete darkness, what is the minimum optical power that the eye can "see" (let's say in 500-600 nm range). I found that for 510 nm, 90 photons can be detected ...
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593 views

3D movie glasses making white light look red and blue

While waiting for a 3D movie to start, I was playing with the glasses they give you. I understand each lens has different polarized filters, so the left and right superimposed images on the screen go ...
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Efficiencies of Coupling Light into a Fiber

I am in AMO Physics and work a lot with optics. I just wanted to get an idea of what coupling efficiencies one "should" get in a "reasonable time"* by coupling light into a fiber using different ...
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What is the specific meaning of “Fourier frequency” (as opposed to simply “frequency”)?

I've noticed that many journal articles (in optics) use the phrase "Fourier frequency" to describe, well, the frequency of something. Google scholar search for "Fourier frequency". Example: ...
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Mirror “roughness”

In optics one of "diffraction-limited" criteria is wavefront tolerance: a textbook example is is optical system with 1/4 wavelength limits producing image of a point source with 68% of the energy ...
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How would you design an experiment to grok optical phenomena?

I've been toying with the idea of making a 3D scanner that uses an IR distance sensor to find position vectors of an object in space and then translates that into a 3D computer model. One of the ...
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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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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 ...
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316 views

Options to correct rectangular laser beam profile?

We recently switched to a 405 nm laser diode which has a terrible beam profile -- it is a well-defined rectangle with an aspect ratio of about 10:1. The image below shows the collimated beam which ...
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Is my simulation result for unpolarized light correct?

This is a follow-up of this question. After that, I picked up some knowledge of FDTD (an algorithm for solving Maxwell's equations) and simulated following scene: Pic 1 As the picture shows, a ...
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Optical absorption — what are the common ranges and mechanisms?

So let's say you do some reflection/transmission spectroscopy of a material. It's clear that it's absorbing in some range. What would be your first step in identifying the source of the absorption? ...
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Is this a Fata Morgana?

I took this photo. Above the horizon there is a thick layer that looks like a cloud, but it surely isn't. Is this a Fata Morgana? What do you think? EDIT: I think the more appropriate name is ...
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981 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 ...
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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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533 views

Photon statistics of an incandescent light source

We usually calibrate the cameras on our microscopes by capturing 20 images of a blurry (not sharp) fluorescent particle. For each pixel in this stack of 20 images we calculate the intensity variance. ...
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Long, blurry reflections in wet road [duplicate]

When driving on a wet highway at night, any surface emitting or reflecting light will have a reflection right under it that is blurry and seems to stretch to infinity. This is not exactly what I am ...
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414 views

Output of a beamsplitter with photon number (Fock) state inputs

Given a beamsplitter drawn below, where $\hat{a}$ and $\hat{b}$ are input modal annihilation operators, transmissivity is $\tau\in[0,1]$, and output modal annihilation operators are ...
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Blonde hair looking green at certain angle

I have a friend who has blonde hair. And when look at an oblique angle, there's a tinge of light green in her hair. I've heard that the copper ion in pool water can make blonde hair green, but her ...