wave optics

Wave optics

The branch of optics which treats of light (or electromagnetic radiation in general) with explicit recognition of its wave nature. The counterpart to wave optics is ray optics or geometrical optics, which does not assume any wave character but treats the propagation of light as a straight-line phenomenon except for changes of direction induced by reflection or refraction. See Electromagnetic radiation, Geometrical optics, Optics

Any optical phenomenon which is correctly describable in terms of geometrical optics can also be correctly described in terms of wave optics. However, the many phenomena of interference, diffraction, and polarization are incontrovertible evidence of the wave nature of light, and geometrical optics often gives an incomplete or incorrect description of the behavior of light in an optical system. This is especially true if changes of refractive index occur within a space which is of the order of several wavelengths of the light. See Diffraction, Interference of waves, Polarized light

McGraw-Hill Concise Encyclopedia of Physics. © 2002 by The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc.

wave optics

[′wāv ‚äp·tiks]
The branch of optics which treats of light (or electromagnetic radiation in general) with explicit recognition of its wave nature.
McGraw-Hill Dictionary of Scientific & Technical Terms, 6E, Copyright © 2003 by The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc.
References in periodicals archive ?
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