10.4.2 Interference Pattern in Nature

Interference of light waves become observable when we have narrow slit separation. Surprisingly, nature provides us with many natural double slits and gratings.

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Those shimmering colours you see reflected off a thin layer of oil is a double-slit interference pattern. The light reflected off the top surface and the light reflected off the bottom layer (total internal reflection) interfere with each other.

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Some shells are iridescent. Thanks to regularly spaced surface grooves. The light reflected off the grooves act as regularly spaced light sources.

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Butterflies too. Thanks to the regularly spaced scale structure on their wings.


Compact discs, are man made objects of course. It has regularly spaced and finely packed grooves, which produces spectacular interference patterns.

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