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Total Internal Reflexion and Huyghens' Construction: the Immersion Grating


It is not uncommonly supposed that if light falls on a dense-rare interface at more than the critical angle, no energy can penetrate into the rarer medium. Several workers1 have shown that a certain amount of energy can penetrate a short distance, but that the disturbance is much attenuated and becomes negligible at a few wave-lengths distance from the interface. This is in accordance with Huyghens' construction2 (see diagram, full circles), which gives in this case a series of secondary wavelets lying wholly within their neighbours, and hence not cutting and reinforcing at any considerable distance.

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  1. Wood, R. W., "Physical Optics" (Macmillan, 1934), chapter 12, p. 418 et seq., gives a summary of this work.

  2. Airy, G. B. "Undulatory Theory of Light" (Macmillan, 1877), par. 35, p. 33, Fig. 10.

  3. Compton and Allison, "X-Rays in Theory and Experiment" (Macmillan, 1935), pp. 40 and 690.

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