Is there any way to add chemicals/elements to water to increase the penetration of light (em waves)?

  • $\begingroup$ Add a gain medium! $\endgroup$
    – Gilbert
    Commented Nov 25, 2020 at 2:02
  • $\begingroup$ Change to a frequency of light that is more easily transmitted. $\endgroup$ Commented Nov 25, 2020 at 2:18
  • $\begingroup$ Gilbert you suggested adding a gain medium. How would you do that? $\endgroup$
    – Bingohank
    Commented Dec 16, 2020 at 22:41

1 Answer 1


Every chemical you add to a medium is going to absorb some light (probably at specific wavelengths, or ranges of wavelengths).

So the best thing you can do to reduce the attenuation of water is to remove as many contaminants from it as possible, and make it as pure as possible.

As a point of comparison, ordinary window glass doesn't transmit light very well --- try to look through a piece of glass from the edge and all you see is a vaguely translucent green color. That green is mainly because of iron ion contamination in the glass. If you remove all of that iron (and hydroxide ions) you can dramatically reduce the attenuation of the glass in the visible and IR bands, and you end up being able to make optical fiber with attenuation on the order of a few tenths of a dB per kilometer.

You're not going to be able to eliminate the hydroxide ions from water, but every other contaminant you can eliminate is going to improve the transmissivity.


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