Interferometer - Michael Lin Partners Josh Narciso Bryant...

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Michael Lin Tuesday Section Partners: Josh Narciso, Bryant Rolfe Due Date: 3/7/07 Interferometer Michael Lin The objective of this experiment was to use an interferometer to measure the wavelength of a laser light source, and then to determine the index of refraction of air and glass. By counting cycles of interference patterns, the wavelengths and indices of refraction were calculated. The wavelength of the laser light source measured from the Fabry-Perot interferometer setup was 650.6 +/- 5.4 nm. The wavelength of the same light source measured from the Michelson interferometer setup was 652.9 +/- 3.8 nm. The index of refraction of air was measured to be 1.000160 +/- 0.000007. The index of refraction of glass was measured to be 1.343 +/- 0.034. INTRODUCTION An interferometer splits a beam of light into different paths, and then recombines these split beams to form interference patterns which consist of both constructive and destructive interference. When two waves of light collide, the wave that results is simply the sum of the two waves. If they collide when both are completely in phase, then the two will sum up perfectly and create totally constructive interference. If they collide when the two waves are completely out of phase, then the two will perfectly cancel and create totally destructive interference. Interference of waves can also occur when the waves are at other positions in their oscillatory cycle, and this determines the amount of constructive or destructive interference in the resulting wave. The Michelson interferometer can be used for many purposes, including measuring the wavelength of a light source. In this interferometer, a beam splitter splits the beam from a light source into two that travel at a right angle from each other to two separate mirrors (half of the light travels through and the other half is reflected at a right angle). The mirrors then reflect the light back at the beam splitter, and the two reflected beams collide and create an interference pattern on the viewing screen. Both beams originally come from the same beam of light, and therefore are originally in phase. The distance in which the wave travels after the beam splitter determines the relative phase at which they meet when they return from the mirrors. Interference of the two beams at different phases by moving one of the mirrors toward or away from the beam splitter (length of the optical path) creates an interference pattern which can be used to determine the wavelength of the light.
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