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Why the velocity of light changes in different media?

Why the velocity of light changes in different media?

Grade:11

1 Answers

askIITianexpert IITDelhi
8 Points
12 years ago

Light travels more slowly in a transparent material then it does through a vacuum due to interaction of the light with the electrons in the material.When light enters materials its energy is absorbed. In the case of transparent materials (dielectrics) this energy is quickly re-radiated. However, this absorption and re-radiation introduces a delay. As light propagates through dielectric material it undergoes continuous absorption and re-radiation. Therefore when the speed of light in a medium is said to be less than c, this should be read as the speed of energy propagation at the macroscopic level. At an atomic level, electromagnetic waves always travel at c in the empty space between atoms. Two factors influence this slowing; stronger absorption leading to shorter path length between each re-radiation cycle and longer delays. The slowing is therefore the product of these two factors.

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