# FRAUNHOFER AND FRESNEL DIFFRACTION IN ONE DIMENSION

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1 FRAUNHOFER AND FRESNEL DIFFRACTION IN ONE DIMENSION Revised November 15, 2017 INTRODUCTION The simplest and most commonly described examples of diffraction and interference from two-dimensional apertures are those for which the light incident on the apertures and the light after passage through the apertures can be described as plane waves. In this limit the diffraction is described as Fraunhofer or far field diffraction. If one of the aperture dimensions is very small compared to the other an example would be a slit with a width small compared to its length the intensity of the light transmitted through the aperture and observed some distance away will vary in a direction perpendicular to the slit width and the light beam, but will be constant in a direction along the slit. Thus the variation in the pattern can be described by only a single dimension and it is called one-dimensional. Fraunhofer diffraction has a particularly simple mathematical description. The amplitude of the diffracted wave can be described as the Fourier transform of the aperture function (For this experiment a suitable aperture function is one that is a constant equal to 1 over the aperture and 0 elsewhere). It is, of course, the intensity that is observed. Because it is most convenient to treat the amplitude as a complex quantity, the intensity or irradiance is proportional to the amplitude times its complex conjugate. For many examples of diffraction, the light source and the point of observation are sufficiently far from the diffracting aperture that both the incident and diffracted light can be treated as plane waves. If these conditions are met the diffraction is described as Fraunhofer or far field diffraction. If the condition that the light source and point of observation are far from the diffracting aperture is not met, so that one cannot employ the approximation of plane waves, then the curvature of the wavefront must be considered in deriving the diffraction pattern. This diffraction is described as Fresnel or near-field diffraction. (Fresnel is pronounced Fray-NEL.) The mathematics involved in Fresnel diffraction is not as simple as the Fourier transforms of far-field diffraction. However, a description has been developed in terms of what are called Fresnel zones, that will yield understandable, qualitative results. If more quantitative answers are needed, special integrals called Fresnel integrals must be evaluated. This can either be done numerically or graphically with the aid of a Cornu spiral. In this experiment, you will first observe far-field diffraction by the use of a lens which will collimate the light so that it hits the diffracting aperture as an approximate plane wave. Then you will remove the lens, and study near-field diffraction. REFERENCES 1. Hecht, Optics (4th or 5th ed.), Section 10.2, Fraunhofer diffraction. 2. Hecht, Optics (4th or 5th ed.), Section 10.3, Fresnel diffraction; Section , the Cornu spiral. APPARATUS and INITIAL SETUP The light source is a helium-neon laser (λ = nm). A spatial filter consisting of a microscope objective and a 25µ pinhole with three micrometer positioning screws is used to clean up the beam. In the Fraunhofer diffraction part, the spatial filter is followed by a long focal length collimating lens. A high-resolution detector is used to record the diffraction pattern. The detector is a Hamamatsu S3923 MOS linear image sensor. It consists of 1024 photodetector elements called pixels 0.5 mm high and arrayed along a line with a separation of 25 µm between the centers of adjacent pixels. It is important to align the array so that the entire diffraction pattern falls on the detector array and the plane of the array is perpendicular to the light beam. 1

3 pinhole position on the light pattern: by slightly moving the horizontal or vertical micrometers, the bright disk should not move but should be extinguished. If the blob appears to move (up or down, left or right) the position of the microscope lens is not yet correct. Detector Alignment First place the polarizer in the beam between the laser and spatial filter (refer to Figure 1). Rotate the polarizer using the small handle and notic what it does to the light intensity. At one setting the laser light should appear quite dim, and at another, nearly as bright as it was without the polarizer. Set the polarizer to transmit maximum light. Now, position the linear array so that the front of the array housing is approximately cm from the front of the spatial-filter pinhole. Orient the base to that the track is perpendicular to the beam path and clamp the array assembly in place with the magnetic base. Turn on the array controller box and press the RESET switch so that the green LED labeled ACQ. (ACQuire) is on. Turn on the oscilloscope used to monitor the array output, and adjust it, if necessary, to obtain a trace. Without any other object in the beam, you should see a broad hump on the oscilloscope screen. If the beam is too bright, the detector pixels may saturate. If this happens, move the polarizer into place between the laser and spatial filter, and adjust the polarizer angle to reduce the beam intensity. Center the hump in the detector by moving it horizontally along the track. Once it is centered, clamp the detector in place. FRAUNHOFER DIFFRACTION In this part you will obtain the intensity pattern for laser light after it has passed through a single slit, sets of double slits with different ratios of slit width to slit separation, and a multiple slit pattern of either 3, 4, or 5 slits. The detector will give you digital values for the integrated (over time) intensity of the diffracted light at 1024 points in the diffraction pattern. You will acquire the data electronically and plot it out using a program of your choice (such as Excel). From the plots, you will manually extract the relevant experimental parameters and their uncertainties. LASER POLARIZER SPATIAL FILTER ASSEMBLY MICROSCOPE OBJECTIVE PINHOLE 135 mm CAMERA LENS IRIS SLIT HOLDER SLIDE TILT ADJUST LINEAR CCD ARRAY CABLE TO CONTROL BOX & COMPUTER MICROMETERS 30 cm cm DETECTOR HEIGHT ADJUST cm Figure 1: Setup for Fraunhofer diffraction. Distances are approximate. Procedure for Fraunhofer diffraction A camera lens is used to bring the laser light from the pinhole to simulate plane-wave propagation as it passes through the diffraction apertures. The lens thus enables a practical (tabletop) realization of Fraunhofer diffraction. [Note for the curious: This setup is not quite the arrangement depicted in Fig of Hecht, in that the waves which impinge on the diffraction aperture in our experiment are not plane waves, but are converging toward the focus point on the screen. It can be shown, however, that our setup is optically equivalent to 3

5 Single slit diffraction 1. Obtain separate diffraction patterns for two single slits with different widths and record the data on the computer. 2. Record the necessary additional information you will need in order to analyze the patterns you obtain. You will need additional distances and the wavelength of the laser light (see the paragraph below). 3. Use the computer program to plot the data, or download the data set (a simple two-column text file) and plot it using your plotting program of choice (such as Excel). Then obtain the physical parameters from the graph directly. There is no need to make a computer fit to the pattern; indeed the physics is better understood by measuring the graph by hand with a ruler. For one slit, you should find (from the graph) information that you may use to calculate the slit width and its associated error. The width of the central peak and the location of the minima on either side should both be used to obtain your results. You will need a number of experimental parameters, such as the wavelength of the laser, the slit-to-array distance and the horizontal scale of the detector. The laser wavelength and the horizontal scale (pixel to pixel spacing) have already been given. Use a tape measure to measure the distance from the slits to the detector. Be careful to avoid any contact with the front of the detector. Use standard propagation-of-error techniques to determine the error on the slit width. Comment on the agreement between your derived values and the actual values of the slit width (available in the lab). Double slit diffraction 4. Select two sets of double slits with different ratios of slit width to slit separation. Obtain and record data sets for each. 5. Using the same techniques as above, obtain the slit widths and slit separations from the plotted data; comment on the agreement with the actual values. Multiple slit diffraction 6. Select at least one from the 3, 4, or 5 slit apertures. Obtain and record a data set for the aperture of your choice. 7. Using the same technique as above, obtain the slit widths, separation, and number of slits from the plotted data. (The slit number can be obtained by measuring the width of the fringes and comparing it to the fringe separation, rounding off to nearest integral value.) Comment on the agreement with the actual values. FRESNEL DIFFRACTION In this part two examples of Fresnel diffraction will be observed and compared to theory: diffraction from a single slit (illustrating the transition from Fresnel to Fraunhofer diffraction), and diffraction from a straight edge. Procedure for Fresnel diffraction The apparatus is essentially the same as that used for Fraunhofer diffraction. In fact, the first objective is to study how the Fraunhofer pattern for a single slit becomes Fresnel-like as you widen the slit. 5

6 LASER POLARIZER SPATIAL FILTER ASSEMBLY MICROSCOPE OBJECTIVE PINHOLE VARIABLE SLIT LINEAR CCD ARRAY CABLE TO CONTROL BOX & COMPUTER MICROMETERS 10 cm 30 cm cm DETECTOR HEIGHT ADJUST Figure 2: Setup for Fresnel diffraction. Remove the camera lens and iris used in the Fraunhofer diffraction part of the experiment and set it gently aside. Slide the slit holder on its track so that it is no longer in the beam. Check the position of the linear array so that the front of the array housing is approximately cm from the pinhole on the spatial filter. The light which will hit the aperture is no longer traveling in (approximate) plane waves, but has wave fronts whose curvature depend on the focal length of the microscope objective and the distance between the pinhole and the slit. (Here, we will only use a single slit or straight edge.) Place the variable slit approximately 10 cm in front of the pinhole (see Figure 2), and adjust its position so the slit is uniformly illuminated and the diffraction pattern is the right size to fill the array. To prevent saturation of the array (indicated by a flat line at the top of the readout) it may be necessary to reduce the light intensity with the polarizer. With all the optics in good alignment and with the desired diffraction pattern displayed on the scope, you are now ready to record the diffraction pattern on the computer. Single slit diffraction 1. First determine where the transition from Fraunhofer to Fresnel diffraction occurs as you change the slit width with the micrometer on the variable slit. (Hint: the Fraunhofer pattern is the square of a sinc function [sin(x)/x]: the the minima are all zero. These minima change when the slit is opened enough to require a Fresnel interpretation). Record the approximate slit width when this transition takes place and later determine whether it agrees with the theory. Obtain a 1024 point readout of the intensity pattern using the LabVIEW program. Carefully record all relevant distances and dimensions. In this case, you need to have the numbers necessary to calculate the reduced slit width u (or v); see Hecht section for definitions and an explanation. 2. Next, reduce the slit width to the Fraunhofer regime and use the techniques described in the Fraunhofer write-up to determine the slit width. The pattern should include the central maximum plus three secondary maxima on both sides. Obtain a 1024 point readout of the intensity pattern using the LabVIEW program. Carefully record all relevant distances and dimensions, as before. 3. Finally, starting from the Fraunhofer regime, increase the slit width and note that there are a number of discrete widths (in the Fresnel regime) where the central point in the intensity pattern goes through a minimum. Record the slit widths for the first two or three of these minima and obtain a 1024 point readout of the pattern for each one. The analysis will use the Cornu spiral. Figure in Hecht gives a labeled graph which can be used (Fig in 4th ed.). From your knowledge of the connection between the Cornu spiral and the intensity plot, it should be fairly obvious how one obtains the approximate slit widths corresponding to these minima. 6

7 This procedure is approximate; the error estimate should involve an educated guess of how well one can obtain the data from the graph. Be sure to convert the Fresnel units back to laboratory units using the formulas in the book or notes. Diffraction by a straight edge 4. Widen the slit further and notice how the pattern approaches that for a single edge. Replace the slit with the thin, straight-edged piece of metal shim stock provided. It is on another stand and magnetic base. BE CAREFUL: the metal edge is sharp and can cut! Obtain a 1024 point readout of the intensity pattern. Carefully record all relevant distances and dimensions. 7

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