The birefringence of crystalline carbonates, nitrates and sulphates

Raman, C. V. (1926) The birefringence of crystalline carbonates, nitrates and sulphates Nature, 118 (2964). pp. 264-265. ISSN 0028-0836

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In two very interesting papers (Proc. Roy. Soc., vol. 105, p. 370, and vol. 106, p. 346, 1924) Prof. W. L. Bragg put forward an explanation of the strong birefringence exhibited by the crystalline carbonates and nitrates. Expressed very briefly, his theory is that in the carbonate and nitrate ions the oxygen atoms are situated in one plane around the central carbon or nitrogen atom, as the case may be, and that, as the result of this arrangement and of the mutual influence of the electric doublets induced in the atoms by the field of the light-waves, the refractivity of the group depends to a marked extent on the direction of the light-vector. The refractive indices of the crystal were successfully computed on this basis. The crystalline sulphates are known, on the other hand, to have a very weak birefringence, and the suggestion was made that very probably the oxygen atoms are arranged tetrahedrally round the sulphur atom in the sulphate ion group, thus making it optically isotropic.

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