The Nature of Light
Geometrical Optics

What is the nature of light? How does it compare with other waves?

What property of light allows us to see and to form images with lenses?

What is the connection between lens focal length and lens strength?

What does the optometrist measure when he/she writes a lens prescription?

How do you determine the focal length? The image position?

How are images formed by mirrors?

What is happening when a person is nearsighted? farsighted? How are these common eye defects corrected?

How does the eye accomodate for close vision?

How does the eye compare to a camera?

Relate the image forming process to simple optical instruments.

What properties and behaviors of light lead us to believe that they are composed of waves?

What is color? What properties of light are associated with color?

How is color measured? Is there a precise method for matching two colors?

What causes the colors we see emerging from a prism?

What causes the colors of the rainbow?

What other color and light phenomena in the sky appear to be wave phenomena?

*Electromagnetic spectrum

*Visible light spectrum


*Image formation



*Focal length

*Ray diagrams

*Lens strength

*Lens equation

*Object outside f

*Object inside f

*Mirror ray diagrams

*Convex mirror

*Concave mirror

*Vision defects



*Simple magnifier

*Astronomical telescope

*Galilean telescope

*Compound microscope


*Color measurement

*Newton color circle



*Bright sky under rainbow



*Red sunset

*Blue sky

*Rayleigh scattering

*Green flash

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Interference of Light Rays

What are the conditions for constructive light interference? destructive?

What can you learn from the interference patter for a double slit?

Under what conditions does light change phase upon reflection?

What causes the colored fringes when light reflects from thin films?

How can the film thickness be determined from the interference pattern?

What kind of measurements can be made with a Michelson interferometer?

What are the conditions for total internal reflection?

How can the reflection coefficient from a surface be calculated?

How is an anti-reflectin coating constructed?

*Light interference

*Interference condition

*Double slit interference

*Phase change upon reflection

*Thin film interference

*Michelson interferometer

*Total internal reflection

*Reflection coefficient

*Anti-reflection coating

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Diffraction and Polarization

How can diffraction of light be observed?

Describe the conditions for minima and maxima for single slit diffraction.

How do the maxima and minima of diffraction from an aperture differ from those of a single slit?

What is the condition for maximum intensity with a diffraction grating?

What determines the finest resolution of the images formed by the eye or by lenses?

How do polaroid sunglasses work? Is polarization a wave phenomenon?


*Single slit

*Double slit

*Aperture diffraction

*Rayleigh criterion

*Multiple slits

*Diffraction grating

*Polarization concepts

*Polaroid sunglasses

*Polarization by reflection

*Polarization by scattering

*Nicol prism

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