What is Diffraction?« Back to Questions List

When parallel waves of light are obstructed by objects like sharp edges, openings, wires etc), the waves spread around the edges of obstruction and interfere, resulting in a pattern of dark and light fringes. Diffraction occurs with all kinds of waves like water, sound, light etc. It is nothing but spreading out of waves as it passes around an obstacle or travel via an opening. The pattern of light that is produced when diffracted is called diffraction pattern. Ripples are also diffraction pattern that get formed on water surface when we hit the surface of still water with an object.



An incandescent light-bulb viewed through a transmissive diffraction grating.


In the atmosphere, diffracted light is actually bent around atmospheric particles. Most commonly, the atmospheric particles are tiny water droplets found in clouds. Diffracted light can produce fringes of light, dark or colored bands. An optical effect that results from the diffraction of light is the silver lining sometimes found around the edges of clouds.


diffraction 1


Thin objects, such as a strand of hair, also diffract light. Light that passes around the hair spreads out, overlaps, and produces a diffraction pattern. A piece of cloth or a feather, which are both made up of many smaller, thinner parts, produce complicated diffraction patterns


When you see the street light through a curtain, you will able to see diffraction pattern.


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