Browder, James Steve Department of Physics, Division of Science and Mathematics, Jacksonville University, Jacksonville, Florida.
- Refractive index
- Crystalline materials
- Other materials
- Additional Readings
All substances used in the construction of devices or instruments whose function is to alter or control electromagnetic radiation in the ultraviolet, visible, or infrared spectral regions. Optical materials are fabricated into optical elements such as lenses, mirrors, windows, prisms, polarizers, detectors, and modulators. These materials serve to refract, reflect, transmit, disperse, polarize, detect, and transform light. The term “light” refers here not only to visible light but also to radiation in the adjoining ultraviolet and infrared spectral regions. At the microscopic level, atoms and their electronic configurations in the material interact with the electromagnetic radiation (photons) to determine the material's macroscopic optical properties such as transmission and refraction. These optical properties are functions of the wavelength of the incident light, the temperature of the material, the applied pressure on the material, and in certain instances the external electric and magnetic fields applied to the material. See also: Atomic structure and spectra; Dispersion (radiation); Electromagnetic radiation; Electrooptics; Infrared radiation; Lens (optics); Light; Magnetooptics; Mirror optics; Optical detectors; Optical modulators; Optical prism; Polarized light; Reflection of electromagnetic radiation; Refraction of waves; Ultraviolet radiation
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