Attenuation of Light

The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.

Attenuation of Light


a reduction in the intensity of a light beam as the beam propagates in matter owing to the joint action of the absorption and scattering of light.

In the general case, the attenuation of a beam with an initial intensity of I0 may be calculated on the basis of the Bouguer-Lambert-Beer law: I = I0e–βl, where e is the thickness of the absorbing substance and β = α + ρ is the attenuation coefficient, which is equal to the sum of the absorption coefficient α and the scattering coefficient ρ.

The attenuation coefficient is measured in some reciprocal unit of length, for example, m–1 or cm–1. The attenuation constant, a dimensionless factor, is equal to the sum of the absorption factor and the dimensionless ratio of the luminous flux scattered by a medium to the flux incident on the medium.

As a rule, attenuation coefficients and attenuation factors are different for different wavelengths.


The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.
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