Q:

What are the practical applications of refraction?

A:

Quick Answer

Refraction is the differential bending of light as it passes through a medium, and it is used in a wide variety of applications throughout industry and the sciences as well as in living bodies. Light refracted through an optical prism spreads out into a spectrum of its constituent colors and allows individual wavelengths to be examined on their own.

Know More
What are the practical applications of refraction?
Credit: Indi Samarajiva CC-BY-2.0

Full Answer

Refraction provides scientists with data about the composition and structure of bodies in space. Outside of the laboratory, refracted light is central to the operation of fiber optic cables. By constructing a cable made from differentiated layers of glass, each with its own refractive index, it is possible to send a pulse of light down a cable for a considerable distance. The refractive gradient between layers of glass inside the cable keeps light of the desired wavelength traveling forward along the cable rather than being absorbed or redirected in a way that interrupts the signal.

Optical glass has a refractive index that is used to bend incoming light to form a coherent picture for people with poor eyesight. When the natural lens of the eye, which also refracts light, becomes stiff or develops a shape that interferes with images, a pair of corrective glasses with the right refractive index usually restores normal vision.

Learn more in Optics & Waves

Related Questions

  • Q:

    What is Snell's law of refraction?

    A:

    Snell's law of refraction is the relationship between the angles of incidence and refraction with respect to the refraction indices of two different media. Snell's law of refraction can be applied to the refraction light for any two media. Snell's law predicts the angle of refraction that light follows when passing from one medium and into the next medium.

    Full Answer >
    Filed Under:
  • Q:

    What causes light refraction?

    A:

    Refraction is caused by light passing from one medium to another (from air to water, for example) and experiencing a change in speed. A fisherman looking into water to spear a fish will have to remember that refraction will distort the image he sees under the water's surface.

    Full Answer >
    Filed Under:
  • Q:

    How do sound waves work?

    A:

    Sound occurs as a result of the back-and-forth vibration of sound waves travelling across a medium. A sound wave is sometimes referred to as a pressure wave because it contains repeating patterns of high-pressure and low-pressure regions.

    Full Answer >
    Filed Under:
  • Q:

    What is critical angle?

    A:

    In optics, the critical angle is the greatest angle at which a light ray, travelling in one transparent medium, can strike the boundary between that medium and a second less dense medium without being totally reflected within the denser medium.

    Full Answer >
    Filed Under:

Explore