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Single slit diffraction and interference - Essay Example

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Single slit diffraction and interference

fraction causes the phenomenon of Interference, which is defined as the diffraction pattern produced on a screen on the other side of the obstacle from the light source. Thus, when monochromatic light passes through a single slit, it flares out, producing a single-slit interference or diffraction pattern on the screen. The diffraction pattern has a bright central region, which is surrounded by symmetrically distributed less intense regions. These bright bands are the ‘maxima’ or areas of constructive interference, interspersed by the ‘minima’ or dark regions of destructive interference.
A plane wave of light travels in a straight line; so when such a wave passes through a rectangular slit, one may expect it to fall on a distant screen in the form of a bright rectangle with sharp edges. However, the process of diffraction of light through the single-slit causes the interference or diffraction pattern formed on the screen to have blurred edges with faint lines of bright and dark, where some light has spread into the shadow. The light wave spreading out from the slit is actually the interference effect termed as diffraction. As a result of diffraction, the light’s intensity is not uniform on the screen, and it extends into the shadow where it appears as secondary maxima. Between bright places in the shadow there are dark places termed intensity minima, where there is no light. According to Holbrow, Lloyd, Amato et al (2010), this is to be expected, taking a single slit of finite width b as two slits of width b/2 with no separation between them. “There might be interference between the light wavefronts coming from these two different halves of the slit” (Holbrow et al 2010, p.313). By considering the slit of width b to be composed of narrower slits, the occurrence of the intensity minima of the Interference or diffraction pattern can be calculated.
Serway and Vuille (2006) reiterate that slits cannot be assumed to have negligible widths acting as line ...Show more


Thus, “diffraction is the bending of a wave by means other than reflection or refraction” (Wilson & Hernandez 2009, p.471). Diffraction is defined as the…
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