Friday, 15 January 2010

refractive index

The refractive index (or index of refraction) of a medium is a measure of how much the speed of light (or other waves such as sound waves) is reduced inside the medium. For example, typical soda-lime glass has a refractive index close to 1.5, which means that in glass, light travels at 1 / 1.5 = 2/3 the speed of light in a vacuum. 2 properties of glass and other transparent materials are directly related to their refractive index. First, light rays change direction when they cross the interface from air to the material, an effect that is used in lenses. Second, light reflects partially from surfaces that have a refractive index different from that of their surroundings.
So refractive index is measure of how much speed of light is reduced inside a medium such as glass etc:

The Refractive Index of Water