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Wave Optics

In physics, wave optics also known as physical optics, is the branch of optics which studies polarization, diffraction, interference and other phenomena for which the ray approximation of geometric optics is not valid. The study of these phenomena lays the foundation for an understanding of such devices and concepts as interferometers, holograms, thin-film interference, coatings for both antireflection (abbreviated as AR) and high reflection (abbreviated as HR), gratings, quarter-wave plates, polarizers and laser beam divergence in the near and far field. This field includes the spreading of light energy which is a fundamental behavior of all wave motion and tends not to include effects such as quantum noise in optical communication, which is included in the sub-branch of coherence theory. Wave optics or physical optics is also the name of an approximation commonly used in optics, applied physics and electrical engineering. This field is an intermediate method between geometric optics (ignores wave effects) and full wave electromagnetism (which is a more precise theory). This approximation consists of using ray optics to estimate the field on a surface and then integrate the field over a lens, mirror or aperture to calculate the scattered or transmitted field. Electromagnetic waves or EM waves with wavelengths in the range of 400 nm to 750 nm are called as visible light. Because of the electromagnetic nature of light, it exhibits several behaviors characteristic of waves such as refraction, reflection, diffraction and interference. The nature of wave propagation is explained by the Huygens’s principle. Huygens’s principle is a geometrical construction that only tells us how wavefronts will move, but not why they will move in that direction. We consider each point on a wave front to be a point source for the production of new waves. In three dimensions, these new spherical waves called as wavelets, that propagate outward with the characteristic speed of the wave. Wavelets emitted by all points on the wavefront interfere with each other which in turn produce the traveling wave. The phenomenon of spreading light around the edges of the obstacle is known as diffraction. Reflection is the abrupt change in the direction of propagation of light ray when it strikes the boundary between two different media. And Refraction is phenomenon of change in direction of propagation of a wave when the wave passes from one medium into another. The light waves get refracted when crossing the boundary from one transparent medium into another if the two media have a different refractive index. Refractive index is a property of the medium, and in general it increases with decrease in wavelength. The speed of light in a medium with refractive index n is given by v=c/n

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