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Visible light, also known as white light, consists of a collection of component colors. These colors are often observed as light passes through a triangular prism. Upon passage through the prism, the white light is separated into its component colors - red, orange, yellow, green, blue and violet. The separation of visible light into its different colors is known as dispersion.

each color is characteristic of a distinct wave frequency; and different frequencies of light waves will bend varying amounts upon passage through a prism. In this unit, we will investigate the dispersion of light in more detail, pondering the reasons why different frequencies of light bend or refract different amounts when passing through the prism.

The rays that emerge spread out in a series of colors known as the visible spectrum. These colors, in order of decreasing wavelength, are red, orange, yellow, green, blue, and violet. Clearly, the angle of deviation 3 depends on wavelength. Violet light deviates the most, red the least, and the remaining colors in the visible spectrum fall between these extremes. Newton showed that each color has a particular angle of deviation and that the colors can be recombined to form the original white light.

The dispersion of light into a spectrum is demonstrated most vividly in nature by the formation of a rainbow, which is often seen by an observer positioned between the Sun and a rain shower.



An interesting effect called total internal reflection can occur when light is directed from a medium having a given index of refraction toward one having a lower index of refraction.

At some particular angle of incidence Oc , called the critical angle, the refracted light ray moves parallel to the boundary so that O2=90 For angles of incidence greater than Oc , the beam is entirely reflected at the boundary


A interesting application of total internal reflection is the use of glass or transparent plastic rods to pipe light from one place to another. As indicated in Figure 35.29, light is confined to traveling within a rod, even around curves, as the result of successive total internal reflections. Such a light pipe is flexible if thin fibers are used rather than thick rods. A flexible light pipe is called an optical fiber. If a bundle of parallel fibers is used to construct an optical transmission line, images can be transferred from one point to another. This technique is used in a sizable industry known as fiber optics.