Light refraction. Law of refraction

Would you like to learn more about the refraction of light and its laws?

The online light refraction simulations on this page will allow you to deepen your understanding of the mechanism of light refraction, its main parameters and the laws that govern it.

Refraction of light is an optical phenomenon that occurs when light changes direction as the medium in which it propagates changes. This change of direction occurs because the speed of light varies as it passes from one medium to another, such as from air to water or from water to glass. Refraction has applications in a variety of areas, such as fiber optics or the lens industry. Understanding the refraction of light is essential to explain and exploit a wide range of optical phenomena and technologies.

When light passes from one medium to another with a different propagation velocity, it undergoes a deflection in its path. The refraction of light is governed by the law of refraction, which states that the angle of refraction, which is the angle formed between the direction of the refracted light and the normal, is related to the angle of incidence and the refractive indices of the media involved.

Refraction of light is essential in the formation of images by lenses, such as those used in eyeglasses, cameras and microscopes. Lenses take advantage of the ability of light to refract to focus light to a specific point and form sharp images. Diverging and converging lenses are used to deflect or converge light rays, respectively, to obtain the desired optical results.

Law of refraction

Refraction of light occurs when light passes from one medium to another, which usually involves a change of direction. The angle of incidence and the angle of refraction are related by Snell’s law. Observe the result of changing the angle of incidence and the index of refraction.

Change of medium I

In this simulation you can observe the different parameters involved in the refraction of a light ray when changing medium.
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Change of medium II


See what happens when you pass light through a material other than air. Try changing to different shapes and see how light behaves differently in each case. Why does white light break down into colors?
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Reflection and refraction laboratory

Explore the bending of light between two media with different refractive indices. See how changing from air to water to glass changes the angle of reflection. Play with prisms of different shapes and create a rainbow.


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