physics lab report

Experiment #6 Wave Interference


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The experiment will involve mainly observing the results of double-slit interference. Here are resources:

Knight (Physics for Scientists and Engineers), 4th ed Chapter 33, sec 1-3

Links to Videos (Khan Academy)

(1) constructive and destructive interference (13:43)

(2) Young’s double slit introduction (9:32)

(3) Young’s double slit equation (6:40)

(4) Young’s double slit problem solving (7:08)

(5) Diffraction grating (14:20)

PhET Wave Interference

Diffraction Grating

Thought-provoking video on ‘quantum’ interference.

Quantum Double Slit Interference (Dr. Quantum)

Here is the link to the simulation program to be used for this experiment:

Wave Interference (visible light)

* Please have available for reference, when performing the experiment, the equations that pertain to the wave interference for double and single slit arrangements.

The major goal for this experiment is to observe and measure the characteristics of double slit interference for visible light.

Initial Setup

1) Make a labeled diagram of the double slit arrangement.

2) Go to the simulation program and familiarize yourself to how it works.

3) Set the slit width (a) to the smallest value.

4) Set the distance between slits (d) to a value near the middle of the range available.

5) Set the distance to the screen (L) to a value near the middle of the range available.

6) Set the color ( ) to red.

7) Set the type of opening to double slit.


8) Make a table using Excel with the following column entries (included units):

n (order) (max) n (order) (min)


9) Take a screen shot of the simulation screen for your report.

10) Using the simulation, measure the values for the positions of interference maxima for orders n = 0,1,2,3,4 and interference minima for and orders n = 1,2,3,4.

(use only positive values for x)

11) Have the spreadsheet calculate all the values besides the measured order and position.

12) Determine the average value of the wavelengths for both the maxima and minima readings.

13) Make two more sets of measurements (steps 8-12) using the green and violet colors.

Further Analysis

14) From your results determine the best values of the wavelengths for the red, green, and violet light sources.

15) Describe what happens (observe and record any changes) when each of the parameters in the simulations is varied. (ex. suppose you increase the slit width)

16) Describe what the dark line (envelope) represents in the simulation.

17) Go to the simulation on diffraction grating (see Background above) and describe the differences and similarities between double slit interference and the interference that occurs when using a diffraction grating.

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