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RUSSELL KIGHTLEY / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY RUSSELL KIGHTLEY / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY
Total internal reflection. Animation showing a light beam changing direction within a glass fibre, showing total internal reflection. At the start of the animation, the light source points vertically upwards and most of the light escapes from the glass. As the light source rotates, and the angle of incidence increases, the emerging (refracted) ray is progressively bent towards the horizontal. When the refracted ray reaches the horizontal, the angle of incidence is called the critical angle. Beyond this angle, light no longer escapes from the block but is totally internally reflected, propagating along the block. This property of propagation is used in optical fibres.
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