Last-Minute Optics: A Concise Review of Optics, Refraction, and Contact Lenses (2nd Edition)

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David G.

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Hunter ; Constance E. Paperback Fri frakt! Om boka. Ta kontakt med Kundesenteret. Avbryt Send e-post. West The popular optics review manual, Last-Minute Optics, has been revised and updated into a second edition. The ultimate culmination, the theory of quantum electrodynamics , explains all optics and electromagnetic processes in general as the result of the exchange of real and virtual photons. Glauber , and Leonard Mandel applied quantum theory to the electromagnetic field in the s and s to gain a more detailed understanding of photodetection and the statistics of light.

Classical optics is divided into two main branches: geometrical or ray optics and physical or wave optics. In geometrical optics, light is considered to travel in straight lines, while in physical optics, light is considered as an electromagnetic wave. Geometrical optics can be viewed as an approximation of physical optics that applies when the wavelength of the light used is much smaller than the size of the optical elements in the system being modelled.

Geometrical optics , or ray optics , describes the propagation of light in terms of "rays" which travel in straight lines, and whose paths are governed by the laws of reflection and refraction at interfaces between different media. They can be summarised as follows:. When a ray of light hits the boundary between two transparent materials, it is divided into a reflected and a refracted ray.

If the first material is air or vacuum, n is the refractive index of the second material. The laws of reflection and refraction can be derived from Fermat's principle which states that the path taken between two points by a ray of light is the path that can be traversed in the least time. Geometric optics is often simplified by making the paraxial approximation , or "small angle approximation". The mathematical behaviour then becomes linear, allowing optical components and systems to be described by simple matrices.

This leads to the techniques of Gaussian optics and paraxial ray tracing , which are used to find basic properties of optical systems, such as approximate image and object positions and magnifications.


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Reflections can be divided into two types: specular reflection and diffuse reflection. Specular reflection describes the gloss of surfaces such as mirrors, which reflect light in a simple, predictable way. This allows for production of reflected images that can be associated with an actual real or extrapolated virtual location in space. Diffuse reflection describes non-glossy materials, such as paper or rock. The reflections from these surfaces can only be described statistically, with the exact distribution of the reflected light depending on the microscopic structure of the material.

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Many diffuse reflectors are described or can be approximated by Lambert's cosine law , which describes surfaces that have equal luminance when viewed from any angle. Glossy surfaces can give both specular and diffuse reflection. In specular reflection, the direction of the reflected ray is determined by the angle the incident ray makes with the surface normal , a line perpendicular to the surface at the point where the ray hits.

The incident and reflected rays and the normal lie in a single plane, and the angle between the reflected ray and the surface normal is the same as that between the incident ray and the normal. For flat mirrors , the law of reflection implies that images of objects are upright and the same distance behind the mirror as the objects are in front of the mirror. The image size is the same as the object size. The law also implies that mirror images are parity inverted , which we perceive as a left-right inversion.

Images formed from reflection in two or any even number of mirrors are not parity inverted.

Corner reflectors produce reflected rays that travel back in the direction from which the incident rays came. Mirrors with curved surfaces can be modelled by ray tracing and using the law of reflection at each point on the surface. For mirrors with parabolic surfaces , parallel rays incident on the mirror produce reflected rays that converge at a common focus. Other curved surfaces may also focus light, but with aberrations due to the diverging shape causing the focus to be smeared out in space.

In particular, spherical mirrors exhibit spherical aberration. Curved mirrors can form images with magnification greater than or less than one, and the magnification can be negative, indicating that the image is inverted. An upright image formed by reflection in a mirror is always virtual, while an inverted image is real and can be projected onto a screen.

Refraction occurs when light travels through an area of space that has a changing index of refraction; this principle allows for lenses and the focusing of light. In such situations, Snell's Law describes the resulting deflection of the light ray:. The index of refraction of a medium is related to the speed, v , of light in that medium by.

Last-minute optics : a concise review of optics, refraction, and contact lenses

Snell's Law can be used to predict the deflection of light rays as they pass through linear media as long as the indexes of refraction and the geometry of the media are known. For example, the propagation of light through a prism results in the light ray being deflected depending on the shape and orientation of the prism. In most materials, the index of refraction varies with the frequency of the light.

Last-Minute Optics: A Concise Review of Optics, Refraction, and Contact Lenses, Second Edition

Taking this into account, Snell's Law can be used to predict how a prism will disperse light into a spectrum. The discovery of this phenomenon when passing light through a prism is famously attributed to Isaac Newton. Some media have an index of refraction which varies gradually with position and, therefore, light rays in the medium are curved. This effect is responsible for mirages seen on hot days: a change in index of refraction air with height causes light rays to bend, creating the appearance of specular reflections in the distance as if on the surface of a pool of water.

Optical materials with varying index of refraction are called gradient-index GRIN materials. Such materials are used to make gradient-index optics. In this case, no transmission occurs; all the light is reflected. This phenomenon is called total internal reflection and allows for fibre optics technology. As light travels down an optical fibre, it undergoes total internal reflection allowing for essentially no light to be lost over the length of the cable. A device which produces converging or diverging light rays due to refraction is known as a lens. Lenses are characterized by their focal length : a converging lens has positive focal length, while a diverging lens has negative focal length.

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Smaller focal length indicates that the lens has a stronger converging or diverging effect. The focal length of a simple lens in air is given by the lensmaker's equation. Ray tracing can be used to show how images are formed by a lens. For a thin lens in air, the location of the image is given by the simple equation. In the sign convention used here, the object and image distances are positive if the object and image are on opposite sides of the lens. Incoming parallel rays are focused by a converging lens onto a spot one focal length from the lens, on the far side of the lens.

This is called the rear focal point of the lens.


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  • Rays from an object at finite distance are focused further from the lens than the focal distance; the closer the object is to the lens, the further the image is from the lens. With diverging lenses, incoming parallel rays diverge after going through the lens, in such a way that they seem to have originated at a spot one focal length in front of the lens. This is the lens's front focal point. Rays from an object at finite distance are associated with a virtual image that is closer to the lens than the focal point, and on the same side of the lens as the object. The closer the object is to the lens, the closer the virtual image is to the lens.

    As with mirrors, upright images produced by a single lens are virtual, while inverted images are real. Lenses suffer from aberrations that distort images. Monochromatic aberrations occur because the geometry of the lens does not perfectly direct rays from each object point to a single point on the image, while chromatic aberration occurs because the index of refraction of the lens varies with the wavelength of the light. In physical optics, light is considered to propagate as a wave.

    This model predicts phenomena such as interference and diffraction , which are not explained by geometric optics. The speed of light waves in air is approximately 3. The wave model can be used to make predictions about how an optical system will behave without requiring an explanation of what is "waving" in what medium.

    Until the middle of the 19th century, most physicists believed in an "ethereal" medium in which the light disturbance propagated. These waves propagate at the speed of light and have varying electric and magnetic fields which are orthogonal to one another, and also to the direction of propagation of the waves. Many simplified approximations are available for analysing and designing optical systems. Most of these use a single scalar quantity to represent the electric field of the light wave, rather than using a vector model with orthogonal electric and magnetic vectors.

    This was derived empirically by Fresnel in , based on Huygens' hypothesis that each point on a wavefront generates a secondary spherical wavefront, which Fresnel combined with the principle of superposition of waves. The Kirchhoff diffraction equation , which is derived using Maxwell's equations, puts the Huygens-Fresnel equation on a firmer physical foundation. Examples of the application of Huygens—Fresnel principle can be found in the articles on diffraction and Fraunhofer diffraction.

    More rigorous models, involving the modelling of both electric and magnetic fields of the light wave, are required when dealing with materials whose electric and magnetic properties affect the interaction of light with the material. For instance, the behaviour of a light wave interacting with a metal surface is quite different from what happens when it interacts with a dielectric material. A vector model must also be used to model polarised light. Numerical modeling techniques such as the finite element method , the boundary element method and the transmission-line matrix method can be used to model the propagation of light in systems which cannot be solved analytically.

    Such models are computationally demanding and are normally only used to solve small-scale problems that require accuracy beyond that which can be achieved with analytical solutions. All of the results from geometrical optics can be recovered using the techniques of Fourier optics which apply many of the same mathematical and analytical techniques used in acoustic engineering and signal processing. Gaussian beam propagation is a simple paraxial physical optics model for the propagation of coherent radiation such as laser beams. This technique partially accounts for diffraction, allowing accurate calculations of the rate at which a laser beam expands with distance, and the minimum size to which the beam can be focused.