Skip to content Skip to navigation

OpenStax_CNX

You are here: Home » Content » Single Slit Diffraction

Navigation

Lenses

What is a lens?

Definition of a lens

Lenses

A lens is a custom view of the content in the repository. You can think of it as a fancy kind of list that will let you see content through the eyes of organizations and people you trust.

What is in a lens?

Lens makers point to materials (modules and collections), creating a guide that includes their own comments and descriptive tags about the content.

Who can create a lens?

Any individual member, a community, or a respected organization.

What are tags? tag icon

Tags are descriptors added by lens makers to help label content, attaching a vocabulary that is meaningful in the context of the lens.

This content is ...

Affiliated with (What does "Affiliated with" mean?)

This content is either by members of the organizations listed or about topics related to the organizations listed. Click each link to see a list of all content affiliated with the organization.
  • Rice Digital Scholarship display tagshide tags

    This module is included in aLens by: Digital Scholarship at Rice UniversityAs a part of collection: "Waves and Optics"

    Comments:

    "This book covers second year Physics at Rice University."

    Click the "Rice Digital Scholarship" link to see all content affiliated with them.

    Click the tag icon tag icon to display tags associated with this content.

Recently Viewed

This feature requires Javascript to be enabled.

Tags

(What is a tag?)

These tags come from the endorsement, affiliation, and other lenses that include this content.
 

Single Slit Diffraction

Module by: Paul Padley. E-mail the author

Summary: The concept of diffraction is introduced and we look at single slit diffraction.

Diffraction

Diffraction is an important characteristic of waves. It can be said to one of the defining characteristics of a wave. It occurs when part of a wavefront is obstructed. The parts of the wavefronts that propagate past the the obstacle interfere and create a diffraction pattern. Diffraction and interference are essentially the same physical process, resulting from the vector addition of fields from different sources. By convention interference refers to only a few sources and diffraction refers to many sources or a continuous source.

Figure 1
Figure 1 (single_slit.png)

When a plane wave hits an aperture, Huygens principle says that each point in the aperture acts as a source of spherical wavelets. The maximum path length difference of all these sources is between the top and the bottom. Δ r m a x = a sin θ Δ r m a x = a sin θ The waves start out in phase. If a < < λ a < < λ then the slit acts as a point source and you get a spherical wave coming out. If a > > λ a > > λ then the aperture simply casts a bright spot the size of the aperture shadow. But if λ a λ a then an interference pattern is set up.When the resulting pattern is viewed close to the aperture, the pattern can be very complex, and this is call Fresnel diffraction. As the the pattern is viewed from further and further away, it eventually stops changing shape and only grows in size. This is Fraunhoffer diffraction.

Single Slit Diffraction

Figure 2
Figure 2 (Single-slit-detail.png)

Consider the contribution to the field E E at a P due to a small element of the slit y y at y y . It is a distance r r from P. R R is the distance from the center of the slit to P.

lets define ε L ε L which is the source strength per unit length, which is a constant.

then d E = ε L r y e i ( k r ω t ) d E = ε L r y e i ( k r ω t )

Now from the drawing r 2 = ( R y sin θ ) 2 + ( y cos θ ) 2 = R 2 + y 2 sin 2 θ 2 R y sin θ + y 2 cos 2 θ = R 2 + y 2 2 R y sin θ = R 2 [ 1 2 y R sin θ + y 2 R 2 ] r 2 = ( R y sin θ ) 2 + ( y cos θ ) 2 = R 2 + y 2 sin 2 θ 2 R y sin θ + y 2 cos 2 θ = R 2 + y 2 2 R y sin θ = R 2 [ 1 2 y R sin θ + y 2 R 2 ] Now assume that y < < R y < < R (which gives us the Franhaufer condition) and r = R [ 1 2 y R sin θ ] 1 2 r = R [ 1 2 y R sin θ ] 1 2 now expand the square root

r = R [ 1 y R sin θ + ] r = R [ 1 y R sin θ + ] and neglect higher terms so that r = R y sin θ r = R y sin θ thus d E = ε L R e i ( k ( R y sin θ ) ω t ) y d E = ε L R e i ( k ( R y sin θ ) ω t ) y where now we have used R in the denominator since it is much bigger than y d E = ε L R e i ( k R ω t ) e i k y sin θ y d E = ε L R e i ( k R ω t ) e i k y sin θ y

now integrate assuming that θ θ is a constant over the slit E = ε L R e i ( k R ω t ) a / 2 a / 2 e i k y sin θ y = ε L R e i ( k R ω t ) e i k y sin θ i k sin θ | a / 2 a / 2 = ε L R e i ( k R ω t ) e i k a 2 sin θ e i k a 2 sin θ i k sin θ = ε L R e i ( k R ω t ) 2 i sin ( k a 2 sin θ ) i k sin θ = ε L R e i ( k R ω t ) 2 sin ( k a 2 sin θ ) k sin θ = ε L a R e i ( k R ω t ) sin ( k a 2 sin θ ) k a 2 sin θ E = ε L R e i ( k R ω t ) a / 2 a / 2 e i k y sin θ y = ε L R e i ( k R ω t ) e i k y sin θ i k sin θ | a / 2 a / 2 = ε L R e i ( k R ω t ) e i k a 2 sin θ e i k a 2 sin θ i k sin θ = ε L R e i ( k R ω t ) 2 i sin ( k a 2 sin θ ) i k sin θ = ε L R e i ( k R ω t ) 2 sin ( k a 2 sin θ ) k sin θ = ε L a R e i ( k R ω t ) sin ( k a 2 sin θ ) k a 2 sin θ

now we define β = k a 2 sin θ β = k a 2 sin θ and see that we can rewrite our expression as E = ε L a R sin β β e i ( k R ω t ) E = ε L a R sin β β e i ( k R ω t ) or equivalently E = ε L a R s i n c β e i ( k R ω t ) E = ε L a R s i n c β e i ( k R ω t )

The intensity will go like the square of this so

I = I 0 s i n c 2 β I = I 0 s i n c 2 β

Figure 3
Figure 3 (SingleSlitDiffraction__3.png)
Plot of sin 2 β β 2 sin 2 β β 2

The Intensity has a maximum at β = 0 β = 0 or θ = 0 θ = 0 . there are minima when sin β = 0 sin β = 0 or β = k a 2 sin θ = n π β = k a 2 sin θ = n π 2 π λ a 2 sin θ = n π 2 π λ a 2 sin θ = n π sin θ = n λ a sin θ = n λ a in the case of small θ θ we see that Δ θ = λ a Δ θ = λ a is the distance between adjacent minima.

As a a becomes large, we see that the minima will merge together. This is consistent with what we said at the beginning, that if a > > λ a > > λ then you just get shadowing but not diffraction.

Finding the secondary maxima is more difficult. (Take the derivative of I and then look for zeros.) This can not be done analytically.

Note that wee have been considering only one dimension. If the length of the slit is L L then we have only considered the case that L > > λ L > > λ and so diffraction occurs only in the other dimension.

Content actions

Download module as:

PDF | EPUB (?)

What is an EPUB file?

EPUB is an electronic book format that can be read on a variety of mobile devices.

Downloading to a reading device

For detailed instructions on how to download this content's EPUB to your specific device, click the "(?)" link.

| More downloads ...

Add module to:

My Favorites (?)

'My Favorites' is a special kind of lens which you can use to bookmark modules and collections. 'My Favorites' can only be seen by you, and collections saved in 'My Favorites' can remember the last module you were on. You need an account to use 'My Favorites'.

| A lens I own (?)

Definition of a lens

Lenses

A lens is a custom view of the content in the repository. You can think of it as a fancy kind of list that will let you see content through the eyes of organizations and people you trust.

What is in a lens?

Lens makers point to materials (modules and collections), creating a guide that includes their own comments and descriptive tags about the content.

Who can create a lens?

Any individual member, a community, or a respected organization.

What are tags? tag icon

Tags are descriptors added by lens makers to help label content, attaching a vocabulary that is meaningful in the context of the lens.

| External bookmarks