ANDREW LAMBERT PHOTOGRAPHY / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY ANDREW LAMBERT PHOTOGRAPHY / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY
Wave diffraction experiment. Waves in a ripple tank passing through an aperture, demonstrating the principle of diffraction. Plane waves are generated on the surface of the water at bottom. When these waves pass through a small aperture (lower centre), they change shape and form concentric waves (upper frame) centred on the aperture. The amount by which the waves change shape depends on the size of the aperture. Diffraction is greatest, as here, when the aperture size is similar to the wavelength. For waves of the same wavelength as seen here, but passing through a larger aperture, see A180/226. Applications of diffraction include gaps used to focus and spread sound and radio waves.
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