Wave Nature of Light: Intermediate Lab Final Project

by Cabell Fisher '99

Spring 1999

    Ever since the advent of Quantum Mechanics, our perceptions of the electromagnetic waves we call light have been radically altered.  The discovery of the dual nature of light changed the way we had to think about problems such as the photoelectric effect and electron diffraction.  The focus of this project, however, deals with how light behaves when considered to be an electromagnetic wave.  We look at several instances of amplitude inteference which produce diffraction patterns and interference fringes.  These fringes in turn can then tell us several characteristics of the light itself, for instance the wavelength.  Several interesting effects also occur when information from these fringes and diffraction patterns is removed via a technique called spatial filtering. So, please read onward to learn more about these interesting phenomena that arise due to the wave nature of light. 

Table of Contents:

  1. History and Basic Principles of Wave Theory
  2. Michelson Interferometer
  3. The Travelling Mirror Michelson Interferometer
  4. Diffraction and the Fraunhofer Plane
  5. The Fabry-Perot Interferometer

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