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enter image description here

Source: isaacphysics.org

This set up, without the glass, would produce a standard interference pattern, with a bright central maximum followed on both sides by progressively dimmer maxima.

Placing a glass plate over one of the slits would refract the light diffracting through the slit, resulting in the emergent rays being more "spread out" as they bend away from the normal.

I would assume that this has no impact on the interference pattern, and the central maximum would stay at O because the light from Q "spreads out" equally in both directions X and Y. However, apparently the central maximum would actually move towards Y, and the rest of the pattern would shift in accordance.

I cannot understand why this would happen. Where is the error in my understanding?

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  • $\begingroup$ What explanation does the Isaacphysics website give? $\endgroup$ – sammy gerbil Sep 30 '17 at 14:03
  • $\begingroup$ None, unfortunately. $\endgroup$ – Pancake_Senpai Sep 30 '17 at 14:05
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It is not refraction which you need to consider it is the change in the length of the optical path.

If you have a ray of light incident on a parallel sided piece of glass all that happens is that the ray suffers a lateral shift but the ray would still be travelling in the same direction as shown in the diagram below.

enter image description here

Since the wavelength of light is less in the glass for a given thickness of glass would have more wavelength in it than the same thickness of air.

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