28_tir_prisms - Lesson 28 Total Internal Reflection Prisms...

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Lesson 28: Total Internal Reflection & Prisms There are two topics that we should look at that are consequences of refraction: Total Internal Reflection Prisms Total Internal Reflection I know that it might seem like a typo, but total internal reflection is happening because of refraction . If a beam of light is traveling from an optically dense medium into a less dense medium, the light can refract so much that it actually gets trapped in the original medium (like it was reflected). Let’s look at what happens to the refracted angle as we increase the incident angle slowly for a ray leaving a more optically dense medium into a less optically dense medium. In these examples we will refer to the light rays by colors. This has nothing to do with the color of light being used. It's just to keep straight which diagram is referring to which situation. Red Ray Notice that the red beam in Illustration 1 does exactly what we would expect it to do. It leaves the water and bends away from the normal. If we wanted to calculate anything for this situation, we would do a normal calculation using Snell's Law. There is nothing at all special about this first ray. Blue Ray We’ve increased the angle that the blue beam is traveling through the water in Illustration 2 . This means that the beam leaves the water and travels into the air refracted at a bigger angle away from the normal.
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