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Encyclopedia > Prism (optics)
If a shaft of light entering a prism is sufficiently narrow, a spectrum results.

In optics, a prism is a transparent optical element with flat, polished surfaces that refract light. The exact angles between the surfaces depend on the application. The traditional geometrical shape is that of a triangular prism with a triangular base and rectangular sides, and in colloquial use "prism" usually refers to this type. Some types of optical prism are not in fact in the shape of geometric prisms. Prisms are typically made out of glass, but can be made from any material that is transparent to the wavelengths for which they are designed. prism splitting light Source: NASA File history Legend: (cur) = this is the current file, (del) = delete this old version, (rev) = revert to this old version. ... prism splitting light Source: NASA File history Legend: (cur) = this is the current file, (del) = delete this old version, (rev) = revert to this old version. ... For the book by Sir Isaac Newton, see Opticks. ... The straw seems to be broken, due to refraction of light as it emerges into the air. ... For the optical prism, see Triangular prism (optics). ... In geometry, an n-sided prism is a polyhedron made of an n-sided polygonal base, a translated copy, and n faces joining corresponding sides. ... Glass can be made transparent and flat, or into other shapes and colors as shown in this sphere from the Verrerie of Brehat in Brittany. ... The wavelength is the distance between repeating units of a wave pattern. ...


A prism can be used to break light up into its constituent spectral colors (the colors of the rainbow). They can also be used to reflect light, or to split light into components with different polarizations. In most modern usages of the word spectrum, there is a unifying theme of between extremes at either end. ... Color is an important part of the visual arts. ... Full featured double rainbow in Wrangell-St. ... The reflection of a bridge in Indianapolis, Indianas Central Canal. ... In electrodynamics, polarization (also spelled polarisation) is the property of electromagnetic waves, such as light, that describes the direction of their transverse electric field. ...

Contents

How prisms work

As light moves from one medium to another (for example, from air into the glass of the prism), it changes speed. As a result, the light's path is bent (refracted) and some of the light is reflected. The angle that the beam of light makes with the interface, as well as the refractive indices of the two media, determines how much of the light is reflected, and by how much its path is bent. The refractive indices of most media vary with wavelength or color of light, a phenomenon known as dispersion, causing light of different colors to separate when refracted at the surfaces of the prism. This article does not cite any references or sources. ... The refractive index (or index of refraction) of a medium is a measure for how much the speed of light (or other waves such as sound waves) is reduced inside the medium. ... The wavelength is the distance between repeating units of a wave pattern. ... Dispersion of a light beam in a prism. ...


When Isaac Newton saw colour coming out of a prism, he thought that all these colors must already exist in the light. Newton placed a second prism such that the separate colors would pass through it and found the colour unchanged. He also used a lens and a second prism to recompose the rainbow into white light. He concluded that the colors exist independently of the prism, and the prism only fans them out. This experiment has become a classic example of the methodology introduced during the scientific revolution. The results of this experiment dramatically transformed the field of metaphysics, leading to John Locke's primary vs secondary quality distinction. Sir Isaac Newton, (4 January 1643 – 31 March 1727) [ OS: 25 December 1642 – 20 March 1727][1] was an English physicist, mathematician, astronomer, natural philosopher, and alchemist, regarded by many as the greatest figure in the history of science. ... The event which most historians of science call the scientific revolution can be dated roughly as having begun in 1543, the year in which Nicolaus Copernicus published his De revolutionibus orbium coelestium (On the Revolutions of the Heavenly Spheres) and Andreas Vesalius published his De humani corporis fabrica (On the... Plato (Left) and Aristotle (right), by Raphael (Stanza della Segnatura, Rome) Metaphysics is the branch of philosophy concerned with explaining the ultimate nature of reality, being, and the world. ... This article is about John Locke, the English philosopher. ... The primary/secondary quality distinction is a conceptual distinction in epistemology and metaphysics, concerning the nature of reality. ...


Prisms are sometimes used for the internal reflection at the surfaces rather than for dispersion. If light inside the prism hits one of the surfaces at a sufficiently steep angle, total internal reflection occurs and all of the light is reflected. This makes a prism a useful substitute for a mirror in some situations. The larger the angle to the normal, the smaller is the fraction of light transmitted, until the angle when total internal reflection occurs. ... A mirror, reflecting a vase. ...


Types of prisms

A triangular prism, dispersing light

Image File history File links No higher resolution available. ... Image File history File links No higher resolution available. ...

Dispersive prisms

Dispersive prisms are used to break up light into its constituent spectral colors because the refractive index depends on frequency; the white light entering the prism is a mixture of different frequencies, each of which gets bent slightly differently. Blue light is slowed down more than red light and will therefore be bent more than red light. FreQuency is a music video game developed by Harmonix and published by SCEI. It was released in November 2001. ...

Diagram of a triangular prism, dispersing light Lamps as seen through a prism. ... In optics, an Abbe prism, named for its inventor, the German physicist Ernst Abbe, is a type of constant deviation dispersive prism similar to a Pellin_Broca prism. ... A Pellin-Broca prism A Pellin-Broca prism is a type of constant deviation dispersive prism similar to an Abbe prism. ... An Amici prism, named for the astronomer Giovanni Amici, is a type of compound dispersive prism which is used as a spectrometer. ...

Reflective prisms

Reflective prisms are used to reflect light, for instance in binoculars. Porro-prism binoculars with central focusing Binocular telescopes, or binoculars, (also known as field glasses) are two identical or mirror-symmetrical telescopes mounted side-by-side and aligned to point accurately in the same direction, allowing the viewer to use both eyes (binocular vision) when viewing distant objects. ...

A pentaprism is a five-sided reflecting prism used to deviate a beam of light by 90°. The beam reflects inside the prism twice, allowing the transmission of an image through a right angle without inverting it (i. ... In optics, a Porro prism, named for its inventor Ignazio Porro, is a type of reflection prism used in optical instruments to alter the orientation of an image. ... A Porro-Abbe prism (sometimes called a Abbe-Porro prism), named for Ignazio Porro and Ernst Abbe, is a type of reflection prism used in some optical instruments to alter the orientation of an image. ... An Abbe-Koenig prism is a type of reflecting prism used to invert an image (rotate it by 180°). They are commonly used in binoculars and some telescopes for this purpose. ... A Schmidt-Pechan prism, side view (top) and 3D-view (bottom). ... A Dove prism is a type of reflective prism which is used to invert an image. ... A dichroic prism is a prism that splits light into two beams of differing wavelength (colour). ... An Amici roof prism, named for its inventor, the Italian astronomer Giovanni Amici, is a type of reflecting prism used to deviate a beam of light by 90° whilst simultaneously inverting the image. ...

Polarizing prisms

There are also polarizing prisms which can split a beam of light into components of varying polarization. These are typically made of a birefringent crystalline material. In electrodynamics, polarization (also spelled polarisation) is the property of electromagnetic waves, such as light, that describes the direction of their transverse electric field. ... A calcite crystal laid upon a paper with some letters showing the double refraction Birefringence, or double refraction, is the division of a ray of light into two rays (the ordinary ray and the extraordinary ray) when it passes through certain types of material, such as calcite crystals, depending on...

A Nicol prism A Nicol prism is an optical device used to generate a beam of polarized light. ... The Wollaston prism is an optical device, invented by William Hyde Wollaston, that manipulates polarized light. ... A Glan-Foucault prism deflects p-polarized light, transmitting the s-polarized component. ... A Glan-Taylor prism reflects s-polarized light at an internal air-gap, transmitting only the p-polarized component. ... A Glan-Thompson prism deflects the p-polarized ordinary ray whilst transmitting the s-polarized extraordinary ray. ...

See also

Wikimedia Commons has media related to:
Prism

Image File history File links Commons-logo. ... The Wikimedia Commons (also called Wikicommons) is a repository of free content images, sound and other multimedia files. ... Angle of minimum deviation. ... Figure 1. ... In geometry, an n-sided prism is a polyhedron made of an n-sided polygonal base, a translated copy, and n faces joining corresponding sides. ... Alternate covers 20th Anniversary cover 30th Anniversary SACD cover The Dark Side of the Moon (titled in the 1993 CD release as Dark Side of the Moon, and often abbreviated as DSotM) is a concept album by the British progressive rock band Pink Floyd, released in 1973. ... Theory of Colours (original German title, Zur Farbenlehre) is a book published by Johann Wolfgang von Goethe in 1810. ... For the optical prism, see Triangular prism (optics). ...

References

  • Hecht, Eugene (2001). Optics (4th ed.). Pearson Education. ISBN 0-8053-8566-5. 

External links

  • Geometry of Two Prism Spectroscopes
  • Java applet of refraction through a prism

  Results from FactBites:
 
Prism (optics) - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia (333 words)
In optics, a prism is a device used to refract light, reflect it or break it up (to disperse it) into its constituent spectral colours (colours of the rainbow).
The traditional geometrical shape is that of a triangular prism, with a triangular base and rectangular sides.
Dispersive prisms are used to break up light into its constituent spectral colours because the refractive index depends on frequency (see dispersion); the white light entering the prism is a mixture of different frequencies, each of which gets bent slightly differently.
prism (optics) (153 words)
A prism (a triangular block of transparent material such as plastic, glass, or silica) is used to split a ray of white light into its spectral colours.
In optics, a triangular block of transparent material (plastic, glass, or silica) commonly used to ‘bend’ a ray of light or split a light beam (for example, white light) into its component colours.
The dispersive property of prisms is used in the spectroscope.
  More results at FactBites »

 
 

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