Wave optics is the study of the wave nature of light.Â *Interference* and *diffraction* are two main phenomena giving convincing evidence that light is a wave.

A wavefront is a surface joining the points of same phase.Â The speed with which the wavefronts move away from the source is called *phase velocity* or *wave velocity*.Â The wave transports energy along the lines perpendicular to the wavefronts, with wave velocity.Â There lines are called **rays**.

For a point source, the wavefronts are spherical extending in three dimension space.Â If the source is far off, the wavefront becomes almost a plane.

1. All points on a wavefront vibrate in same phase with same frequency.

2. Every point on the wavefront acts as a point source of spherical secondary wavelets.

3. After a time *t*, the new wavefront is the surface tangent to these secondary wavelets.

4. Wavefronts move with the velocity of wave in that medium.

Two waves (whether sound or light) of equal frequencies travelling almost in the same direction show interference.Â Consider two waves coming from sources *S*_{1} and *S*_{2}.Â These reach point *P* with a path difference D*x*, having amplitude *A*_{1} and *A*_{2},

*y*_{1} = *A*_{1} sin [*t* â€“Â *kx*]Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â â€¦(1)*Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â y _{2}*Â =

orÂ

where

By principle of superposition, the resultant wave at

Â = [

PuttingÂ Â

so that Â Â

Eq. (3) becomes

The intensity of the resultant wave is

or Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â â€¦(6)

Thus,

From Eq. (6), *I* is *maximum**, *when

cos = +1

or Â = 0, 2, 4, â€¦ Â or Â

*I* will be ** minimum**, whenÂ cos = â€“1

or = , 3, 5, â€¦ Â Â Â or

The *ratios*

IfÂ *I*_{1} = *I*_{2} = *I*_{0}Â Â (i.e.,Â *A*_{1} = *A*_{2}),Â we have

*I*_{max} = 4*I*_{0}Â Â Â Â Â andÂ Â Â Â *I*_{min} = 0

Thus, *when interference of two waves of equal intensities occur, the intensity of maximaÂ becomes 4 times that of single wave and that of minimaÂ becomes zero*.

Two sources are said to be ** coherent **if they produces waves of the

Unlike sound waves, *two independent sources of light cannot be coherent*.Â Sound is a bulk property of matter.Â So, two independent sources of sound can produce coherent waves.Â However, light is emitted from a source due to the vibrations of its atoms.Â The individual atoms emit light *randomly *and *independent *of each other.

In *practice*, coherent sources are obtained either by dividing the *wavefront* (as in the case of Youngâ€™s Double Slit Experiment,Â Fresnelâ€™s biprism,Â Lloyd mirror, etc.) or by dividing the *amplitude* (as in the case of thin films, Newton rings,Â etc.) of the incoming waves from a single source.

A **laser **discovered in 1960, is different from common light sources.Â Its atoms act in a cooperative manner so as to produce intense, monochromatic, unidirectional and coherent light.Â Thus, two independent laser beams can produce observable interference on a screen.

This experiment was done by English scientist Thomas Young in 1801 to prove that light is a wave.

Light from a distant monochromatic source illuminates slit *S*_{0} in screen *A*.Â Emerging light from *S*_{0} spreads to illuminate two parallel, closely spaced slits *S*_{1} and *S*_{2} in screen *B*.Â The slitâ€™s length extends into and out of the page.Â These slits behave like two coherent sources.Â Light wave from these slits spread out and fall on the screen *C*.Â An *interference pattern* of alternate *bright* (*maxima*) and *dark* (*minima*) *bands *or *fringes* is seen on the screen.In the experiment, the distance *D* between screens *B* and *C* is very large compared to the distance *d* between the slits *S*_{1} and *S*_{2} (*D* >> *d*).Â Therefore, the angle q is very small, and hence

where *y* is the distance of point *P* from the central point *O*.

The path difference between the two waves arriving at point *P* is

For *n*th ** maxima**,

or Â Â , Â *n* = 0, 1, 2, 3, â€¦

For *n*th ** minima**,

or , Â Â Â Â Â Â *n* = 1, 2, 3, â€¦

**Note** that

(1)Â For the central point *O*, path difference *p* = 0, hence it is a maxima.Â We can call it *zeroth maxima*.

(2)Â The *n*th *minima* comes before the *n*th *maxima.*

It is the distance between two consecutive maxima (or minima) on the screen,

or

**Note** that fringe width b is independent of *n*.Â That is, the interference fringes have same width throughout.

Suppose that a transparent sheet of refractive index and thickness *t* is introduced in one of the paths of interfering waves.Â Its optical path becomes *t* instead of *t*.Â That is,Â these occurs an increase in optical path by ( â€“ 1)*t*.Â Because of this, a given fringe shifts from its present position

to its new positionÂ Â .

â¸« Â Â Lateral shift,

As shown in the figure, entire fringeâ€“pattern is displaced by *y*_{0} towards the side in which the plate is introduced, without any change in fringe width.**Conditions for Observing Sustained Interference**

(1)Â The frequencies of the two interfering waves must equal.

(2) The initial phase difference between the two interfering waves must remain constant with time.

(3) The light must be monochromatic; otherwise there will be overlapping of patterns corresponding to each wavelength.

(4) The intensity of the two waves should be same so as to improve contrast.

(5) The two sources should be closely spaced; otherwise the fringes will be too close for the eye to resolve.

(6) The sources should be narrow.

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