BlogNCERTImportant Topic of Physics: Wave Optics

Important Topic of Physics: Wave Optics

The field of physics known as optics investigates the properties and behavior of light, as well as its exchanges with matter and the development of equipment that uses or detects it. The behavior of visible, ultraviolet, and infrared light is commonly described by optics. Although light is an electromagnetic wave, it shares qualities with other types of electromagnetic radiation like X-rays, microwaves, and radio waves. The classical electromagnetic explanation of light can account for the majority of optical phenomena. Complete electromagnetic explanations of light, on the other hand, are notoriously difficult to put into practice. Simple models are commonly used in practical optics. Geometric optics, the most prevalent of them, treat light as a series of rays that travel in parallel lines and bend when passing through or reflecting from something.

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    A brief outline

    The reality that light has both wave-like and particle-like characteristics is crucial for some phenomena. Quantum mechanics is required to explain these phenomena. Light is portrayed as a collection of particles termed “photons” when studying its particle-like qualities. Quantum optics is the study of how quantum mechanics can be applied to optical systems. Many related disciplines, including astronomy, numerous engineering professions, photography, and medicine, are interested in and study optical science. Mirrors, lenses, telescopes, microscopes, lasers, and fiber optics are examples of practical optics used in a variety of technology and everyday things.

    Light is thought to move in straight lines in geometrical optics, whereas it is thought to travel as an electromagnetic wave in physical optics. When the wavelength of the light employed is significantly less than the size of the optical components in the system is represented, geometrical optics can be thought of as an approximation of physical optics.

    Important concepts

    The Wave Theory of Huygens

    Until Christopher Huygens introduced his wave theory of light in the early 18th century, no one dared to dispute Newton’s corpuscular hypothesis. Light, according to Huygens’ hypothesis, is made up of waves that flow through a diffuse and highly elastic medium that exists everywhere in space.” Ether is the name given to this medium. Because the medium is expected to be very dilute and very elastic, its density will be very low and its modulus of elasticity will be quite high, resulting in a very fast light speed. Light reflection, refraction, interference, and diffraction were all explained by Huygens’ wave theory. But he didn’t explain why:

    • Huygens believed light waves to just be mechanical disturbances that are longitudinal in nature, which led to polarization.
    • The photoelectric effect, black body radiation, and the Compton Effect are all examples of electromagnetic radiation.
    • We now know that light may propagate in a vacuum because of the hypothetical medium ether, which was never observed.

    Fourier optics, which effectively states the adoption of transverse spatial Fourier transform, is a crucial subject in wave optics. This enables both qualitative and quantitative computations, as well as an intuitive qualitative explanation of numerous phenomena and design processes. Only analytical methods can be used to perform some of these computations. For simulating light propagation relying on some form of the wave equation, numerical software is frequently utilized.

    Everyday existence includes optics. The importance of visual systems in biology demonstrates optics’ importance as a science from one of the five senses. Many people benefit from wearing eyeglasses or contact lenses, and optics are crucial to the operation of many consumer goods, including cameras. Optical phenomena include rainbows and mirages. Both Internet and contemporary telephony rely on optical communication as a backbone.

    Light is thought to propagate like a wave in physical optics. Interference and diffraction, which are not accounted for by geometric optics, are predicted by this model. In the air, light waves travel at a speed of 3.0*108 m/s. Visible light waves have a wavelength of 400–700 nm, although the term “light” is often used to refer to infrared (0.7–300 m) and ultraviolet (10–400 nm) radiation.


    The field of wave optics bears witness to a renowned debate between two significant scientific societies dedicated to studying the nature of light. One believes that light is a particle, while the other believes that it is a wave. Sir Isaac Newton was a very well backer of the particle theory of light, suggesting a corpuscular theory wherein “light consists of immensely light and tiny particles referred as corpuscles that travel at extremely high speeds from the light source to create a feeling of vision by projecting on the retina of the eye.”Newton was willing to clarify reflection and refraction while using theory, but he was unable to explain the causes of interference, diffraction, and polarization. The greatest shortcoming in Newton’s corpuscular theory would be that it failed to articulate why the velocity of light in denser media was less than in vacuum.

    Significance of wave optics in NEET exam

    The review material for Infinity Learn is delivered through and through by probably the best educator in the country. Their insight and showing style make the review materials incredibly gainful in improving your NEET test execution on this specific point. The reason for the review materials is to make significant material in a basic language utilizing fundamental methodologies that are both efficient and exact.

    Thus, accuracy, speed, and constancy are completely interlaced. Likewise, the NCERT Solutions composed by staff are the main piece of any board test, JEE, or NEET test. These arrangements are refreshed consistently and stick to the latest CBSE standards and educational program. Boundlessness Learn incorporates an assortment of training question sets, mock test series, earlier year addressed issues, and questions in view of last year’s tests for fast audit.

    Also read: Important Topic of Physics: Astronomical Telescopes

    FAQs (Frequently asked questions)

    What is the Doppler effect, and how does it work?

    The perceived frequency of the light absorbed by the viewer differs from real frequency originating from the source of light if and when there is relative motion between the observer and the source. The Doppler effect in light is the name for this phenomenon. The effect could be used to determine how fast an item is approaching or retreating.

    What does it mean when light is polarized?

    The phenomena that are induced by the architecture of electromagnetic radiation, i.e., wave nature, can be defined as a polarization of light in Physics. The sun's light travels across space in a vacuum to reach Earth, and this is an example of an electromagnetic wave. When an electric field encounters another magnetic field, these waves form.

    Question 3: What is Light Interference, and how does it work?

    Answer: The interference of light can be explained by the beautiful interplay of colors that arise. The interior and outside of an item refract light, causing this phenomenon. The reflecting surfaces might be parallel or interconnected. When it comes to light that reflects from the outside, this can be both beneficial and harmful.

    This is feasible because light travels whenever waves are generated on the inner and outer surfaces, resulting in color. In addition, the vibrant colors of those wavelengths are included. As reflected light is nullified in places where the waves are out of phase, destructive interference ensues.

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