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Episode 316: Preparation for reflection and refraction topic
This topic gives an overview of reflection and refraction, with the emphasis on an interpretation in terms of waves. Applications, particularly those involving total internal reflection, are considered.


Looking ahead
The demonstration of refraction using a ripple tank is tricky, and it is a good idea to practise this.

Main aims
Students will:

  • Know how to justify the law of reflection by a wave diagram
  • Know how to justify Snell’s law in terms of wave velocities
  • Be able to perform calculations involving the refractive index
  • Be able to perform calculations involving critical angle
  • Know the benefits of fibre optic communication
Apparent depth

Prior knowledge
Students should know:

  • The law of reflection
  • The law of refraction, or at least have a qualitative knowledge of refraction


Where this leads
This work explains the behaviour of light in terms of waves; this is particularly important as diffraction and interference follow (as the result of superposition of waves).

Download Word version of Episode 316 (38 KB)


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