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Name: Robert F.
Status: student
Age: 40s
Location: N/A
Country: N/A
Date: 2001-2002


Question:
Can I bend white light greater then 90 degrees, and not cause refraction (opening of the color spectrum)? If not white light what about using a single spectrum? I am looking to see if the white light (or an isolated spectrum) can leave an emitting source and pass through and object (bending device) and make a turn greater then 90 degrees (greater then a right angle).


Replies:
A back (or front) surfaced mirror does this.

Vince Calder


Robert,

First, opening of the white spectrum is called "Diffraction". Refraction is in fact the bending of light due to passing from one material to another (such as from air to glass). At only one surface, it is not possible to cause refraction greater than 90 degrees. If there is more than one surface involved(eg. air | glass | air | glass | air), and if the parts are shaped and oriented properly, you can end up with light bent more than 90 degrees from its original direction.

As for whether you get diffraction, that depends on what materials you use. If all visible light travels at the same speed through all materials used (if index of refraction is the same for all colors), then it would be possible. I do not know of any such material, but there is no law that says it cannot exist.

Dr. Ken Mellendorf
Illinois Central College



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