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Wave Properties - Refraction

Refraction is the change in direction of a light wave as it transitions through a different medium. Refraction is due to a change in the velocity of light, the wavelength is shortened however the frequency remains unchanged. Refraction is a property of all waves including light and sound.

The refraction is due to light travelling through substances of different densities, for example when light travels from air to glass the light will slow down and cause a slight change in direction. If the light is traveling along the normal line then the light will not change direction.

Wave refraction diagram 

Different colours of light have different wavelengths and therefore will change direction by different amounts when refracted. This becomes apparent when white light is shone through a glass prism.

Light Refraction

 

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