Huygen's principle states that every plane wave is made up of an infinite number of point sources, and that the constructive interference between each wavelet forms the next wave front, and so the cycle continues.
Diffraction, then, can be explained by the entirety of a wave front being blocked out, but with a slit just wide enough so that exactly one point source can "fit", producing a spherical wave on the other side of the slit.
However, that raises some questions:
- The effect of diffraction is at its greatest when the slit is the exact length of the wavelength. Hence, can one assume that each point source on the wave front is spaced exactly one wavelength apart?
- Why is the diffraction effect reduced but not completely eliminated if the slit is wider than the wavelength? Surely if there is more than one wavelet that can "fit" into the slit width, then all that should be produced on the other side is another, albeit shorter, wave front. Why is it slightly bent on the sides when the original wave front is not?
- When one wavelet can fit into the slit, what happens to the rest? Do they reflect back at the boundary?
- Why are single slit diffraction patterns produced? If there is only one wavelet in the slit width, what is it interfering with to produce an interference pattern?