2 Lesson 5 – Diffraction and the wave equation Aims:To recall and use the relationship between the speed, frequency and wavelength of a wave: wave speed = frequency × wavelength, v = f × λTo understand that waves can be diffracted through gaps or when they pass an edge, and that the extent of diffraction depends on the wavelength and the physical dimension of the gap.
3 paddle vibrates to produce waves The ripple tankA ripple tank is a device used to study the behaviour of waves, because all waves behave in a similar manner.paddle vibrates to produce wavesA ripple tank produces water waves that can be reflected, refracted and diffracted.
4 Reflection and refraction What do you think will happen if a barrier is placed in front of the water waves?paddleIf it is a plane barrier then the waves are reflected.What do you think will happen if a block is submerged in the ripple tank?barrierThe change in depth of the water causes a change in speed of the waves – they are refracted.
5 Barrier with large gapWhat will happen if the width of the gap in the barrier is larger than the wavelength of the waves?The waves pass through the gap unchanged apart from slight diffraction of the waves near their ends.
7 Diffraction through a big gap Shadow zoneWe often imagine that waves passing through a big gap will behave like this.
8 Diffraction occurs at edges In reality the waves curve slightly when they pass the edges of the gap.
9 Barrier with wavelength-sized gap What will happen if the width of the gap in the barrier is similar in width to the wavelength of the waves?Circular waves are produced. This effect is known as diffraction.
10 DiffractionDiffraction is the bending of waves as they pass through a gap or past an edgeWhen a wave (front) is Incident on an edge or an obstacle/slit/gap Wave ‘bends’ into the geometrical shadow/changes direction/spreads
11 Diffraction effects are most obvious when the object or aperture causing the diffraction is similar in size to the wavelength of the waves.
12 Less occurs if wavelength is smaller than the object. More occurs if wavelength is larger than the object.
13 The nearer the slit size is to the wavelength, the more the wave will diffract. 1. The smaller the gap the greater the diffraction.2. The longer the wavelength the greater the diffraction
16 Water wave diffraction When a water wave hits an obstacle, the waves spread out round the edge and becomes curved. A small gap will cause more diffraction than a large gap.The wavelength of the wave is not changed in diffraction.
17 Sound wave diffraction Sound waves have wavelengths from about 15 m down to 2 cm. Many everyday objects are the same size as sound waves – this causes a lot of diffraction.This is why we can hear someone talking to us who is not directly in our line of sight. Sound waves diffract when they pass through doors or move past the edges of walls.Diffraction of sound should not be confused with reflection of sound (echos).
18 Diffraction of SoundHow can the teacher in the corridor hear the school band even though he isn’t in the hall?
19 Light wave diffraction Visible light waves are tiny less than a millionth of metre in length. There are not many things in our everyday lives that are this small so we do not see any diffraction of light waves.We can only see light that comes directly towards us or has reflected off another surface.Radio waves are much larger and diffract when they pass hills and buildings so that we can receive signals.
20 Radio wave diffraction How can houses in the shadows of hills receive a radio signal?All electromagnetic radiation travels in straight lines.Radio waves diffract around the hill to the house.
21 Summary – Diffraction and the wave equation Diffraction is the spreading out of a wave when it reaches a gap.
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