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Young's Double-Slit Experiment verifies that light is a wave simply because

of the bright and dark fringes that appear on a screen. It is


the constructive and destructive interference of light waves that cause such fringes.

Constructive Interference of Waves

The following two waves (Fig. 1) that have the same wavelength and go to
maximum and minimum together are called coherent waves. Coherent waves help
each other's effect, add constructively, and cause constructive interference. They
form a bright fringe.

Destructive Interference of Waves

In Fig. 2 however, the situation is different. When the wave with amplitude
A1 is at its maximum, the wave with amplitude A2 is at its minimum and they work
completely against each other resulting in a wave with amplitude A2 - A1. These
two completely out of phase waves interfere destructively. If A2 = A1, they form
a dark fringe.

The bright and dark fringes in Young's experiment follow these formulas:
Bright Fringes: d sinθk = k λ where k = 0, 1, 2, 3, ...
Dark Fringes: d sinθk = (k - 1/2 ) λ where k = 1, 2, 3, ...

The above formulas are based on the following figures:

Check the following statement for correctness based on the above figure.

Light rays going to D2 from S1 and S2 are 3(0.5λ) out of phase (same as being 0.5λ out
of phase) and therefore form a dark fringe.

Light rays going to B1 from S1 and S2 are 2(0.5λ) out of phase (same as being in
phase) and therefore form a bright fringe.

Note that SBo is the centerline.

Going from a dark or bright fringe to its next fringe changes the distance
difference by 0.5λ.

Diffraction Grating:

Diffraction grating is a thin film of clear glass or plastic that has a large number of
lines per (mm) drawn on it. A typical grating has density of 250 lines/mm. Using
more expensive laser techniques, it is possible to create line densities of 3000
lines/mm or higher. When light from a bright and small source passes through a
diffraction grating, it generates a large number of sources at the grating. The very thin
space between every two adjacent lines of the grating becomes an independent
source. These sources are coherent sources meaning that they emit in
phase waves with the same wavelength. These sources act independently such that
each source sends out waves in all directions. On a screen a distance D away, points
can be found whose distance differences from these sources are different multiples
of λ causing bright fringes.

One difference between the interference of many slits (diffraction grating)


and double-slit (Young's Experiment) is that a diffraction grating makes a number
of principle maxima along with with lower intensity maxima in
between. The principal maxima occur on both sides of the central maximum for
which a formula similar to Young's formula holds true.

D = the distance from the grating to the screen


d = the spacing between every two lines (same as every two sources)

If there are N lines per mm of the grating, then d, the space between every two
adjacent lines or (every two adjacent sources) is

The diffraction grating formula for the principal maxima is:

d sin θk = k λ where k = 1, 2, 3, ...