The colours of breathed-on plates

Raman, C. V. (1921) The colours of breathed-on plates Nature, 107 (2701). p. 714. ISSN 0028-0836

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The phenomena of breath-figures on glass are of considerable interest, and have been written upon in the columns of Nature by the late Lord Rayleigh, Dr. John Aitken, and others. One specially interesting aspect of the subject to which I have recently devoted some attention is the explanation of the beautiful optical effects exhibited by breathed-on plates of glass. If a clean, cold plate of glass is lightly breathed on and then held in front of the eye, and if a small distant source of light is viewed through it, coloured haloes will be seen surrounding the source. The characteristic feature of the halo exhibited by a moderately heavy (but not too heavy) deposit is that the outermost ring in it is achromatic, with a reddish or brown inner margin, followed inside by a succession of rings of various colours. As the film of moisture evaporates, the halo contracts and the coloured rings move inwards, ultimately disappearing at the centre of the halo. The entire halo presents a radiating fibrous structure.

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