Example: Refraction - Snell’s Law

Published 2012-03-25 | Author: Jimi Oke

When light travels from one medium to another (for instance, from light to water), its speed changes, causes the rays to bend. This phenomenon, called refraction, is governed by Snell’s Law, which states that the ratio of the sine of the angle of incidence to that of the angle of refraction is a constant (known as the index of refraction).

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Refraction - Snell's Law

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% Refraction
% Author: Jimi Oke
\tikzstyle arrowstyle=[scale=1]
\tikzstyle directed=[postaction={decorate,decoration={markings,
    mark=at position .65 with {\arrow[arrowstyle]{stealth}}}}]
\tikzstyle reverse directed=[postaction={decorate,decoration={markings,
    mark=at position .65 with {\arrowreversed[arrowstyle]{stealth};}}}]

    % define coordinates
    \coordinate (O) at (0,0) ;
    \coordinate (A) at (0,4) ;
    \coordinate (B) at (0,-4) ;
    % media
    \fill[blue!25!,opacity=.3] (-4,0) rectangle (4,4);
    \fill[blue!60!,opacity=.3] (-4,0) rectangle (4,-4);
    \node[right] at (2,2) {Air};
    \node[left] at (-2,-2) {Water};

    % axis
    \draw[dash pattern=on5pt off3pt] (A) -- (B) ;

    % rays
    \draw[red,ultra thick,reverse directed] (O) -- (130:5.2);
    \draw[blue,directed,ultra thick] (O) -- (-70:4.24);

    % angles
    \draw (0,1) arc (90:130:1);
    \draw (0,-1.4) arc (270:290:1.4) ;
    \node[] at (280:1.8)  {$\theta_{2}$};
    \node[] at (110:1.4)  {$\theta_{1}$};


  • #1 John Henderson, April 18, 2012 at 9 p.m.

    Neat diagram. The preamble contains the definition of Snell's law... but perhaps the diagram could contain the actual formula illustrating the relationship? n1 sin theta_1 = n2 sin theta_2? Just a suggestion!

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