It is often necessary to diffuse light, either through transmission or
reflection. Diffuse transmission can be accomplished by transmitting
light through roughened quartz, flashed opal, or polytetrafluoroethylene
(PTFE, Teflon). Diffusion can vary with wavelength. Teflon
is a poor IR diffuser, but makes an excellent visible / UV diffuser.
Quartz is required for UV diffusion.
Integrating spheres are coated with BaSO4 or PTFE, which offer >97%
reflectance over a broad spectral range with near perfect diffusion.
These coatings are, however, quite expensive and fragile.
Some lamps use collimating lenses or reflectors to redirect light into
a beam of parallel rays. If the lamp filament is placed at the focal
point of the lens, all rays entering the lens will become parallel.
Similarly, a lamp placed in the focal point of a spherical or parabolic
mirror will project a parallel beam. Lenses and reflectors can drastically
distort inverse square law approximations, so should be avoided where precision
distance calculations are required.
When light passes between two materials of different refractive indices,
a predictable amount of reflection losses can be expected. Fresnelís
law quantifies this loss. If nl = 1.5 between air and glass, then
rl = 4% for each surface. Two filters separated by air transmit 8%
less than two connected by optical cement (or even water).
Precision optical systems use first surface mirrors to avoid reflection
losses from entering and exiting a glass substrate layer.
Lenses are often employed to redirect light or concentrate optical power.
The lens equation defines the image distance q, projected from a point
that is a distance p from the lens, based on the focal distance, f, of
the lens. The focal distance is dependent on the curvature and refractive
index of the lens. Simply put, all rays parallel to the optical axis
pass through the focal point. Since index of refraction is dependent
on wavelength, chromatic aberrations can occur in simple lenses.
When light reflects off of a rear surface mirror, the light first passes
through the glass substrate, resulting in reflection losses, secondary
reflections, and a change in apparent distance. First surface mirrors
avoid this by aluminizing the front, and coating it with a thin protective
SiO coating to prevent oxidation and scratching.
Concave mirrors are often used to focus light in place of a lens.
Just as with a lens, a concave mirror has a principal focus, f, through
which all rays parallel to the optical axis pass through. The focal
length of a spherical concave mirror is one half the radius of the spherical
surface. Reflective systems avoid the chromatic aberrations that
can result from the use of lenses.
Filter manufacturers usually provide data for a glass of nominal thickness.
Using Bougerís law, you can calculate the transmission at other thicknesses.
Manufacturers usually specify Pd, so you can calculate the external transmittance
from internal transmittance data.
Prisms use glass with a high index of refraction to exploit the variation
of refraction with wavelength. Blue light refracts more than red,
providing a spectrum that can be isolated using a narrow slit.
Internal prisms can be used to simply reflect light. Since total
internal reflection is dependent on a difference in refractive index between
materials, any dirt on the outer surface will reduce the reflective properties,
a property that is exploited in finger print readers.
Most monochromators use gratings to disperse light into the spectrum.
Gratings rely on interference between wavefronts caused by microscopically
ruled diffraction lines on a mirrored surface. The wavelength of
reflected light varies with angle, as defined by the grating equation,
where m is the order of the spectrum (an integer).