# Chapter 3 – Refraction of Light Through A Prism

The following Topics and Sub-Topics are covered in this chapter and are available on MSVgo:

Introduction

In your physics class, you might have come across a solid glass object with identical ends and a flat face in a triangular shape. This object, which has the same cross-section across its length, is known as a prism. There are other variants in shapes and sizes, but this is one of the most common structures of the prism. A prism is used to break white light into multiple constituent spectral colors, that is, the seven colors of rainbows. Prisms are also used for refracting light and splitting it into multiple components with different polarization processes.

#### Refraction of Light Through a Prism

Refraction is the process of bending light when it passes from one medium to another. In a similar context, when light passes through a prism, it travels from air to a solid glass object, which causes the light ray to deviate, change its direction, and get divided into different colors.

#### Power of Accommodation

The ability of the human eye to adjust to see objects from both near and far is called the power of accommodation. The process of accommodation tends to involve the lens of the eye and ciliary muscles. The work of ciliary muscles is to modify the curvature of the lens, due to which the focal length of the lens is affected. In other words, accommodation is the process by which the vertebrate eyes tend to change the eyes’ optical power. This helps them to maintain a clear focus on the image irrespective of the distance between a rigid lens and the muscles of the retina.

#### Atmospheric Refraction

An advanced sunrise and a delayed sunset are the two primary examples of atmospheric refraction that humans can notice in their daily life. These phenomena are caused by the random flickering of the hot air and turbulent streams in the earth’s atmosphere. Atmospheric refraction is the process of light deviating from its straight-line path as it passes through different types of atmosphere with varied air density resulting from changes in height. Atmospheric refraction can therefore be defined as the deviation of light or any other sort of electromagnetic wave from a straight line followed. This happens when light passes through a different environment with a variation in air density, which causes it to change its height.

#### Scattering of Light

Scattering of light occurs when light particles pass through some imperfect medium filled with other particles, due to which light is deflected from its straight path. With this phenomenon, light scatters in multiple directions. One of the best examples of scattering of light is the deflection of sun rays when they pass through clouds. Scattering of light is also known as ‘Rayleigh scattering’ after Lord Rayleigh. He proved that scattering of light occurs elastically and dominates electromagnetic waves, which pass through imperfect mediums with different particles. Rayleigh also claimed that light is deflected in areas with particles due to the small wavelength of the area. The Tyndall Effect is one of the key examples of scattering of light. The Tyndall Effect can be described as light scattering by particles through the method of colloid or very fine suspension.

#### The Human Eye and its Construction

• Human eyes work on a principle related to the refraction of light passing through a natural convex lens, with transparent living material.
• This natural convex lens of the eye allows living beings to see things and others in their environment.
• A human eye’s key parts are the cornea, optic nerve, retina, eye lens, ciliary muscle, iris, and pupil.
• The amount of light that enters a human eye is controlled by the pupil. If the intensity of light originating from outside is lower than necessary, the pupil expands, allowing more light to enter the eye. On the other hand, if the light intensity is higher than necessary, the pupil contracts so that less light enters the eye.

#### Defects of Vision Causes and Correction

There are three most common defects of visions, namely, myopia, hypermetropia, and presbyopia.

• Myopia is a vision defect in which individuals cannot see distant objects clearly. Myopic eyes tend to make an image of a distant object form in front of the retina, rather than it forming in the retina itself. The key reason for this defect is an excessive curvature of the lens of the eyes. For correction of this defect, a concave lens should be used.
• Hypermetropia causes issues in seeing distant objects. The key cause of this defect is an increased focal length of the eye lens. For correcting this defect, a convex lens of appropriate power should be used.
• Presbyopia is caused due to aging when the power of accommodation of eyes decreases. This defect is caused due to the gradual weakening of the ciliary muscles. For correction of this issue, the use of bifocal lenses is recommended.

#### Conclusion

• Refraction of light is the process related to the bending of light when it passes from one medium to another.
• A prism is one of the best examples of a solid object that causes refraction of light, a phenomenon in which the direction of a light ray changes and it gets divided into multiple colors.
• Atmospheric refraction causes light to refract through the human eye.
• Scattering of light occurs when light gets deflected while passing through an imperfect medium.
• Human eyes can suffer three basic defects: myopia, hypermetropia, and presbyopia.

#### FAQs

1. What is the process of refraction of light through a prism?

When light passes through a glass prism, it causes refraction of light at the entry point and exit point. The ray of light deviates while passing through a prism, causing the refraction.

2. What happens when you look through a prism?

You will see different colors of light moving at different speeds, and the light waves will separate into multiple colors.

3. How is a prism an example of refraction?

When light passes through a prism, it gets refracted as it passes through the air and then the prism glass. The light ray divides into multiple colors; thus, the prism is an example of refraction.

4. What is refraction’s simple explanation?

A change in the direction of light due to changes in the medium through which it is passing is refraction.

5. Why white light gets dispersed when passed through a prism?

As different colors of the light travel at different speeds, when light passes through a refracting surface like a prism its components bend at varied angles, which causes it to disperse.

Do visit the MSVgo application to better understand the concept of refraction of light through a prism. For more information on this and other concepts, browse materials on MSVgo. On this application, you will find multiple informative sources for understanding concepts. This application has an extensive library of academic videos, essential notes, and test questions for students to learn efficiently.

### High School Physics

• Alternating Current
• Atoms
• Communication Systems
• Current Electricity
• Dual nature of Radiation and Matter
• Electric Charges and Fields
• Electricity
• Electromagnetic Induction
• Electromagnetic Waves
• Electrons and Photons
• Electrostatic Potential and Capacitance
• Fluid Pressure
• Force and Acceleration
• Force And Laws Of Motion
• Gravitation
• Internal Energy
• Kinetic Theory
• Law of motion
• Light – Reflection And Refraction
• Magnetic Effects Of Electric Current
• Magnetism and Matter
• Management Of Natural Resources
• Mechanical properties of Fluids
• Mechanical properties of Solids
• Motion
• Motion in a plane
• Motion in a straight line
• Moving Charges and Magnetism
• Nuclear Energy
• Nuclei
• Oscillations
• Our Environment
• Paths of Heat
• Physical world
• Ray optics and optical instruments
• Semiconductor Devices
• Semiconductor Electronics: Materials, Devices and Simple Circuits
• Simple Machines
• Sound
• Sources Of Energy
• Specific and Latent Heats
• Spherical Mirrors
• Static Electricity
• Systems of Particles and Rotational motion
• Thermal properties of matter
• Thermodynamics
• Units and Measurement
• Vectors, Scalar Quantities and Elementary Calculus
• Wave Optics
• Waves
• Work, Power and Energy

### High School Chemistry

• Acids, Bases and Salts
• Alcohols, Phenols and Ethers
• Aldehydes, Ketones and Carboxylic Acids
• Aliphatic and Aromatic Hydrocarbons
• Alkyl and Aryl Halides
• Amines
• Analytical Chemistry
• Atomic Structure
• Atoms And Molecules
• Basic concepts of Chemistry
• Biomolecules
• Carbon And Its Compounds
• Carboxylic acids and Acid Derivatives
• Chemical Bonding and Molecular Structures
• Chemical Energetics
• Chemical Equilibria
• Chemical Kinetics
• Chemical Reactions And Equations
• Chemical Reactions and Their Mechanisms
• Chemistry in Everyday Life
• Chemistry of p-Block elements
• Chemistry of Transition and Inner Transition
• Classification of Elements
• Coordination Compounds
• Cyanide, Isocyanide, Nitro compounds and Amines
• Electrochemistry
• Electrolysis
• Elements, Compounds and Mixtures
• Environmental Chemistry
• Equilibrium
• Ethers and Carbonyl compounds
• Haloalkanes and Haloarenes
• Hydrocarbons
• Hydrogen
• Ideal solutions
• Introduction to Organic Chemistry
• Ionic equilibria
• Matter
• Matter Around Us
• Matter In Our Surroundings
• Metallurgy
• Metals And Non-Metals
• Mole Concept and Stoichiometry
• Natural Resources
• Organic Chemistry – Basic Principles
• Periodic Classification of Elements
• Physical and Chemical Changes
• Physical and Chemical Properties of Water
• Polymers
• Preparation, Properties and Uses of Compounds
• Principles and Processes of Isolation of Elements
• Redox Reactions
• Relative Molecular Mass and Mole
• States of Matter
• Structure Of The Atom
• Study of Compounds
• Study of Gas Laws
• Study of Representative Elements
• Surface Chemistry
• The d-block and f-block elements
• The Gaseous State
• The p-Block Elements
• The Periodic Table
• The s-Block Elements
• The Solid State
• Thermodynamics

### High School Biology

• Absorption and Movement of Water in Plants
• Anatomy of Flowering Plants
• Animal Kingdom
• Bacteria and Fungi-Friends and Foe
• Biodiversity and Conservation
• Biofertilizers
• Biological Classification
• Biomedical Engineering
• Biomolecules
• Biotechnology and its Applications
• Biotic Community
• Body Fluids and Circulation
• Breathing and Exchange of Gases
• Cell – Unit of Life
• Cell Cycle and Cell Division
• Cell Division and Structure of Chromosomes
• Cell Reproduction
• Cellular Respiration
• Chemical Coordination and Integration
• Circulation
• Control And Coordination
• Crop Improvement
• Digestion and Absorption
• Diversity In Living Organisms
• Ecosystem
• Environmental Issues
• Excretory Products and their Elimination
• Flowering Plants
• Genes and Chromosomes
• Health and Diseases
• Health and Its Significance
• Heredity And Evolution
• Heredity and Variation
• How Do Organisms Reproduce?
• Human Diseases
• Human Eye And Colourful World
• Human Health and Disease
• Human Population
• Human Reproduction
• Hygiene
• Improvement In Food Resources
• Integumentary System- Skin
• Kingdom Fungi
• Kingdom Monera
• Kingdom Protista
• Life Processes
• Locomotion and Movement
• Microbes in Human Welfare
• Mineral Nutrition
• Molecular Basis of Inheritance
• Morphology of Flowering Plants
• Neural Control And Coordination
• Nutrition in Human Beings
• Organism and Population
• Photosynthesis
• Photosynthesis in Higher Plants
• Plant Growth and Development
• Plant Kingdom
• Pollination and Fertilization
• Pollution; Sources and its effects
• Principles of Inheritance and Variation
• Reproduction and Development in Angiosperms
• Reproduction in Organisms
• Reproductive Health
• Respiration in Human Beings
• Respiration in Plants
• Respiratory System
• Sexual Reproduction in Flowering Plants
• Strategies for Enhancement in Food Production
• Structural Organisation in Animals
• Structural Organisation of the Cell
• The Endocrine System
• The Fundamental Unit Of Life
• The Living World
• The Nervous System and Sense Organs
• Tissues
• Transpiration
• Transport in Plants

### High School Math

• Algebra – Arithmatic Progressions
• Algebra – Complex Numbers and Quadratic Equations
• Algebra – Linear Inequalities
• Algebra – Pair of Linear Equations in Two Variables
• Algebra – Polynomials
• Algebra – Principle of Mathematical Induction
• Binomial Theorem
• Calculus – Applications of Derivatives
• Calculus – Applications of the Integrals
• Calculus – Continuity and Differentiability
• Calculus – Differential Equations
• Calculus – Integrals
• Geometry – Area
• Geometry – Circles
• Geometry – Conic Sections
• Geometry – Constructions
• Geometry – Introduction to Euclid’s Geometry
• Geometry – Three-dimensional Geometry
• Geometry – Lines and Angles
• Geometry – Straight Lines
• Geometry – Triangles
• Linear Programming
• Matrices and Determinants
• Mensuration – Areas
• Mensuration – Surface Areas and Volumes
• Number Systems
• Number Systems – Real Numbers
• Permutations and Combinations
• Probability
• Sequence and Series
• Sets and Functions
• Statistics
• Trignometry – Height and Distance
• Trignometry – Identities
• Trignometry – Introduction

### Middle School Science

• Acids, Bases And Salts
• Air and Its Constituents
• Basic Biology
• Body Movements
• Carbon and Its Compounds
• Cell – Structure And Functions
• Changes Around Us
• Chemical Effects Of Electric Current
• Coal And Petroleum
• Combustion And Flame
• Components Of Food
• Conservation Of Plants And Animals
• Crop Production And Management
• Electric Current And Its Effects
• Electricity And Circuits
• Elements and Compounds
• Fibre To Fabric
• Food production and management
• Force And Pressure
• Forests: Our Lifeline
• Friction
• Fun With Magnets
• Garbage In, Garbage Out
• Getting To Know Plants
• Health and Hygiene
• Heat
• Hydrogen
• Life Processes: Nutrition in Animals and Plants
• Materials: Metals And Non-Metals
• Matter and Its States
• Metals and Non-metals
• Micro Organisms: Friend And Foe
• Motion And Measurement Of Distances
• Motion And Time
• Nutrition In Animals
• Nutrition In Plants
• Organization in Living Things
• Our Environment
• Physical And Chemical Changes
• Pollution and conservation
• Pollution Of Air And Water
• Reaching The Age Of Adolescence
• Reproduction In Animals
• Reproduction In Plants
• Respiration In Organisms
• Rocks and Minerals
• Separation Of Substances
• Simple Machines
• Soil
• Some Natural Phenomena
• Sorting Materials Into Groups
• Sound
• Stars And The Solar System
• Structure of Atom
• Synthetic Fibers And Plastics
• The Living Organisms And Their Surroundings
• Transfer of Heat
• Transformation of Substances
• Transportation In Animals And Plants
• Universe
• Waste-water Story
• Water: A Precious Resource
• Weather, Climate And Adaptations Of Animals To Climate
• Winds, Storms And Cyclones

### Middle School Math

• Area and Its Boundary
• Boxes and Sketches
• Data Handling
• Fun With Numbers
• Heavy and Light
• How Many
• Long And Short
• Mapping
• Measurement
• Money
• Multiplication and Factors
• Multiply and Divide
• Numbers
• Parts and Wholes
• Pattern Recognition
• Patterns
• Play With Patterns
• Rupees And Paise
• Shapes And Angles
• Shapes And Designs
• Shapes and Space
• Similarity
• Smart Charts
• Squares
• Subtraction
• Tables And Shares
• Tenths and Hundredths
• Time