In both small and large particles, light as an EM wave will accelerate charged particles such as electrons and induce a dipole forcing the electrons to oscillate at the same frequency of incident light and emit photons of the same wavelength without losing energy. Presumably, since blue light has a higher frequency it will accelerate electrons more and they will induce a higher acceleration, thereby scattering more blue light, I guess?! But even though, why doesn't that same process happen in small and large particles relative to the wavelength of light?

Note: I'm a biologist and probably the description above is wrong. Could you please correct and describe why particles larger than 1/10 wavelength of light do not undergo Rayleigh scattering and instead scatter all light independent of wavelength hence they scatter white light?


Mie scattering is the general solution to Maxwell's Equations in scattering problems. When the particle size is small, it can be approximated by Rayleigh scattering. When the particle size is large, it's almost independent of wavelength.

As for intuition for this wavelength-independent phenomenon, a previous post answers this question. Why do we use Mie scattering to describe light scattering off large objects?

Basically, I think his point was that because a large-size particle is an aggregate of many smaller constituents. Since all the constituents are close-by and scatter EM waves, their scattered waves interfere with each other, which results in the wavelength independence.

That said It's still not clear why this interference will produce wavelength independence. I hope someone can provide more intuition.


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