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Wave Optics - Intro

In physics, wave optics is the study of the behavior of light, or other electromagnetic waves, as they interact with matter. It is a branch of classical optics. While the term "optics" usually refers to the study of light propagation in free space, "wave optics" is used when it is important to take into account the effects of the material the light is traveling through. Wave optics is mostly concerned with the behavior of waves near the boundary between different media. When waves from a single source interact with each other their behavior can be difficult to predict. For example, two waves of the same frequency and wavelength can interfere, leading to a phenomenon known as interference fringes.

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Video Transcript

Welcome to the next unit in physics. One or two in this unit will be discussing wave optics. This is really the kickoff of our optics units. Um, we're going to start with wave optics instead of ray optics because it tends to be a more correct picture, though a little more challenging to deal with. So we're going to consider Cem simplified applications of wave optics and then move on to ray optics, which is a little more classical now to clarify. What I mean is when I talk about Ray optics versus wave optics, wave optics means that you have a light source which produces wave fronts. So it's emitting light in all these directions to the right hand side and the distance from one line to the next is one wavelength, and so on. Individual line is known as a wave front. So this is the leading edge of the light waves that are being admitted by this source. Okay, um, and when I talk about ray optics, it means that we consider a source to be emitting light, and we draw as being a set of vectors in all of these different directions. So ray optics is convenient for some applications. Wave optics is convenient for others and is actually conceptually a more correct picture of how light works. Um, there is also what's known as the Particle View of Light, which involves photons. That's a discussion better reserved until physics 103 though. So with the wave model of light, what we're going to say is that we have, as I said, a source that creates a Siris of wave fronts, with the leading wavefront being the leading edge of the light that's been admitted by the source. Meanwhile, when it interacts with anything, So, for example, if it were to hit an object over here as the wave fronts hit this and reflect off it, this becomes its own source and then would emit light as a reflected wave back toward it, or in whichever direction it happens to reflect off towards so it could go often. This angle is well, so you can see that the pictures here can get very, very complicated, Um, and for some applications that will be enlightening and others, it will just be confusing. So we're going to consider some of the classic examples in wave objects which generally have to do what's called with what's called the interference of light. That is when two different light sources are interfering with each other and they're adding up or subtracting from each other. They're superimposing on each other to cause some effect that we will then major.