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Partners Name : Muhammad Fakhruddin Bin Ghazali

Class : E11C
Teachers Name : Pn. Adilah bt. Che Hassan
Date : 31.01.2012
TITLE : Verifying Snells Law
Aim : To verify Snells Law by finding the refractive index .

Problem Defining: Snells law, which states that the refractive index of a medium is equal to the

ratio where

is respectively angle of incident and angle of refraction, can be verified from

a constant gradient of the graph


where is the reciprocal of the gradient. But

since the angle of refraction has its limit i.e. when total internal reflection occurs, the graph is constant
only for

critical angle

. Therefore we may only consider the gradient for

Research Question:
To verify Snells Law by showing that the ratio of the sin value of incident angle to the sine of
refracted angle is a constant and is equal to the refractive index of the glass, by measuring the
respective angle made by the bent light ray to the normal at the point of bending when a light ray is
projected trough a glass block at different angle.
Independent Variable: the incident angles

of the light ray to the normal of glass block.

Dependent Variable: the refractive angle

of the light ray to the normal of glass block.

Constant Variable: the refractive index of the glass i.e. same glass block, position of glass block, the
colour of light ray (constant degree of refraction), length r of radial lines.
Materials and Apparatuses:
a rectangular glass block, a small protractor, a big protractor, a wide white paper, light ray
projector, sharp mechanical pencil.

Methods for Controlling Variables:
The lights are turned off and curtains are closed to maximize the relative intensity of the light
ray (to make easy to observe and to mark the angles). The glass block used is the same throughout the
experiment for constant refractive index n. The experiment is made on wide white paper to maximize
clarity for observation. A very sharp mechanical pencil is used to mark the angles, in order to produce
accurate measurement. Lines r are made to help in determining the position from which light ray is to
be projected for respective

. More values of

are anticipated to be used near the critical angle since

the markings might get narrower causing it hard to measure the angle

. As to maintain the position

of glass block, lines parametering the glass block are drawn before the experiment to allow the x and z
position of the glass block is constant hence a constant normal line can be used.

Methods for Collecting Variables and the Precaution Measures:
The values of

is produced by first drawing markings using protractor and then radial lines
from the center O through the respective markings are made to help with light ray projection. During
the projection of the light ray, we make sure that the ray is always at the center of and parallel to the
respective radial line so that the angle made by ray to the normal is the same as that by the radial line.
After the light is on, we make radial lines for each of the markings so that we can measure

respective radial lines using a protractor. As precaution measures in collecting the data,


A wide white paper is let to spread flat on a wide table. A dot O as the point of refraction is drawn on
the centre of the paper and then a long straight line named the boundary line is drawn through it such
that it is almost perpendicular to one side of the paper. From referenced at the line, ticks showing

, whose measurement start from the line, from 0 to 90 of interval 10 (except for angle 82)
are made using a big protractor and a sharp mechanical pencil Then, straight lines radiating from O
through the ticks are drawn. Another long straight line is drawn perpendicular to the first one and is
considered the normal line.
A glass block is put on the paper such that point O touches one of its sides and that side fully touches
the boundary line(as in the diagram).
Following the methods for controlling variables and for collecting data stated up above, the procedure
continues. At angle of incident,

, of 10.00 light ray is projected and the produced angle of


, is measured and the value is recorded. The experiment is repeated with


Data Collection and Processing

10.0 6.00 0.1740.009 0.1050.009
20.0 13.5 0.3420.008 0.2330.008
30.0 19.0 0.5000.008 0.3260.008
40.0 26.0 0.6430.007 0.4380.008
50.0 30.5 0.7660.006 0.5080.008
60.0 36.5 0.8660.004 0.5950.007
70.0 39.0 0.9400.003 0.6290.007
80.0 41.0 0.9850.002 0.6560.007
82.0 41.5 0.9900.001 0.6630.007

Sample Calculations:
1. For

2. Uncertainty for :
By using

We get

And hence

(eq. 1)

For and :
From (eq. 1) and





y = 0.6796x - 0.0072
0.000 0.200 0.400 0.600 0.800 1.000 1.200


sin (theta_i)
*the centroid, C of the graph:


From the graph and from the equation

The gradient, m, of the graph:

We get is the gradient m of the graph, hence

Uncertainty of n, as from the graph,

Where max gradient,

And minimum gradient,

Mean gradient


Conclusion and Evaluation
The refractive index , n, of the glass is the ratio of the sine value of incident angle to the sine value of
angle of refraction and holds a constant value which is equal to 1.50
The theoretical refractive index
is 1.50 so percentage error,

| |

| |

Since all %Error < ,
The result is acceptable since the results are within the range of possible values of i.e.
within the uncertainty. From the small value of y-intercept from this graph, it shows that the
systematic error in this experiment is little.
The green dotted vertical straight line from the graph showing

shows that the

domain of the x-axis is limited to 1.00. Another similar, horizontal line shows the range of y-axis
values is limited to 0.670. this means that critical angle of glass, as from this experiment, is

42.1, which is near enough to the theoretical value of

But still further revisions on the methods for controlling variables to further increase the
accuracy and precision thus the reliability of this experiment. So, the experiment is needed to be
repeated with suggestions mentioned in the table below. For reducing percentage error, below are
some considered limitations and suggested methods for improvement.
The lines are drawn at both sides of the glass block produce unnecessary uncertainties and inaccuracy
in measurement of

since markings needed to be made on the boundary of glass block, which is

hard to do.
So, Instead of using rectangular glass block for refraction, we found out that it is easier to produce
accurate result using semi-circular glass block. Because unlike rectangular glass block, semi-circular
one will make sure that any light ray passing through its curved boundary and its center point O is
refracted only once, which is at the linear boundary, since the at the first boundary, the ray is at 90
angle to the tangent line touching the crossed boundary point. Hence more reliable markings (more
accurate measurement of

) can be made far from the glass block(length of line r is higher).

As the length travelled gets higher, the light ray gets more dispersed and blurry, making it harder to
identify the point at which the ray is bent the second time. This causes inaccuracy.
So, since the dispersion increases by length travelled, we need to minimize the length travelled prior
to second bend. So, we need to project the light ray as close as possible to the glass block.
As the

gets higher, the closer if the gap between each marking. As it gets very close it is hard to
make the marking and measure the angle using protractor.

So, Since the dispersion increases by length travelled, we need to minimize the length travelled prior
to second bend. So, we need to project the light ray as close as possible to the glass block.
As the

gets higher, the closer if the gap between each marking. As it gets very close it is hard to
make the marking and measure the angle using protractor. The lines r we made radiating from the
refraction point O to the respective markings are too short for a highly sensitive and accurate
measurement of

using the small protractor.

We should increase the length L so a new glass block with a length much greater than L is needed to
replace it. As L increases, the length of the radiating lines r will increase hence the possible value of
maximum and minimum

will increase as a result, meaning the trueness of measured

(as in the diagram):