We know that when converging beam of light rays are more converging after passing through a surface, then we say the surface is of it positive focal power. If angle of convergence doesn't change it is of zero focal power. Similarly negative focal power diverges.

The formula of focal power of surface when light rays pass from medium of refractive index n1 to medium n2, the focal power is n2-n1/R, where R is radius of curvature of interface.

Now if we consider an plane interface between two different media. Let converging light rays pass through it from denser to rarer. Then the rays become less converging. That is negative power. But according to the above formula ,we should get power as zero(Since R=infinty for plane interface). Why do I get a different answer? Can anyone make out the mistake I did?

enter image description here

As shown in the above figure, Power is non zero. But the formula suggests that power is zero. Why?


In this example there is only one interface for which the lens makers formula, ignoring any particular sign convention, is $$\frac{n_1}{u} + \frac{n_2}{v} = \frac{n_2-n_1}{R}$$ where the object, distance $u$ from the interface, is situated in a material of refractive index $n_1$ and the image, distance $v$ from the interface, is observed from a material of refractive index $n_2$ and the radius of the interface is $R$.
Now if it a flat surface, $R=\infty$, the right hand side of the equation is zero which gives $$\frac u v = (-)\frac{n_1}{n_2}$$ which you might recognise as the real $(u)$ and apparent $(v)$ depth formula which is discussed here?


Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.