Conical refraction in biaxial crystals

Raman, C. V. (1921) Conical refraction in biaxial crystals Nature, 107 (2702). p. 747. ISSN 0028-0836

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An arrangement for demonstrating conical refraction usually found in laboratories is a piece of aragonite crystal mounted inside a little tube which has one end covered with a metal foil pierced by a number of pin-holes, and an eye-lens in a focussing mount at the other end. When the tube is directed against a luminous object and the eye-lens focussed on the pin-holes through the crystal suitably oriented they are seen as luminous rings of light. Writers on physical optics who describe this experiment refer to it as illustrating internal conical refraction-that is, as due to the fact that the Fresnel wave-surface has a tangent-plane which touches it along a circle. I wish to point out that this is really an error. A little consideration will show that as the eye-lens is focussed on the pin-holes, which may be as small as we please, we are concerned here with the waves diverging from them in all directions within the crystal, and the observed effect is due to the fact that the two sheets of the wave-front intersect at a conical point. In other words, the experiment really illustrates external conical refraction. This is confirmed by the fact that an extended source of light may be used without interfering with the success of the experiment.

Item Type:Article
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Deposited On:04 Aug 2011 07:26
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