CBSE Class 12 Physics Notes: Wave Optics – Huygen’s Theory and Introduction to Interference

Huygens’ Wave Theory

(i) Each point on a wavefront acts as a source of new disturbance and emits its own set of spherical waves called secondary wavelets. The secondary wavelets travel in all directions with the velocity of light so long as they move in the same medium.

(ii) The envelope or the locus of these wavelets in the forward direction gives the position of new wavefront at any subsequent time.

A surface on which the wave disturbance is in the same phase at all points is called a wavefront.

Wave optics involves effects that depend on the wave nature of light. In fact, it is the results of interference and diffraction that prove that light behaves as a wave rather than a stream of particles (as Newton believed).

Like other waves, light waves are also associated with a disturbance, which one consists of oscillating electric and magnetic field. The electric field associated with a plane wave propagating along the x-direction can be expressed in the form:

CBSE Class 12 Physics Notes: Wave Optics – Huygens Theory and Introduction to Interference Image by AglaSem

Points to remember regarding Interference

  • When two waves with amplitude A1 and A2 superimpose at a point, the amplitude of resultant wave is given by

CBSE Class 12 Physics Notes: Wave Optics – Huygens Theory and Introduction to Interference Image by AglaSem

CBSE Class 12 Physics Notes: Wave Optics – Huygens Theory and Introduction to Interference Image by AglaSem

Determination of Phase Difference

The phase difference between two waves at a point will depend upon

(a) the difference in path lengths of the two waves from their respective sources.
(b) the refractive index of the medium
(c) initial phase difference, between the source, if any.
(d) Reflections, if any, in the path followed by waves.

  • In case of light waves, the phase difference on account of path difference

CBSE Class 12 Physics Notes: Wave Optics – Huygens Theory and Introduction to Interference Image by AglaSem

  •  In case of reflection, the reflected disturbance differs in phase by  with respect to the incident one if the wave is incident on a denser medium from a rarer medium. No such change of phase occurs when the wave is reflected in going from a denser medium to a rarer medium.
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