One of the essential concepts due to which objects are visible to us is reflection. But how does this work? What is the phenomenon behind it? What are the different types of reflection? These are the basic concepts of science that every student must be well acquainted with. We provide insight into what reflection is and all that you need to know. This will help the students in getting a clear understanding of the concepts for better comprehension. We also provide these notes in PDF downloadable form allowing the students to study easily anytime, anywhere they want.
It is also called regular reflection. This reflection usually takes place on smooth surfaces making the angle of incidence and angle of reflection equal.
It is also called irregular reflection. This reflection usually takes place on rough surfaces, following which the angle of incidence and angle of reflection are unequal.
Do all objects emit their own light? No. Rather, the visibility of objects is due to the reflection of light. Most objects reflect natural or artificial lights. The reflection of lights is tremendously impacted by the smoothness and roughness of the surface/object.
Difference Between Regular Reflection and Diffused Reflection
Before understanding the difference, let us know the meaning of a beam and a ray of light.
A beam of light consists of multiple individual light rays which are parallel to each other. And each ray of right follows the laws of reflection. But, this happens only in the case of smooth surfaces. On rough surfaces, every ray of light has a different orientation after reflection.
Now, let us understand the difference between regular and diffuse reflection.
Consider two different surfaces. Let one be a mirror (smooth surface), and the other be any rough surface (reddish). When white light is reflected on the mirror, it reflects all the white light components at the same angle as the incident light. The mirror does not absorb any component of any wavelength. However, this varies for a rough surface. When white light is reflected on the rough surface, it does not reflect all the wavelengths; rather, the blue and green are absorbed on the surface. Only the red light is reflected, causing the red colour of the surface. The colour is also visible due to the scattering of light on the surface.
Specular and Diffuse Reflection Examples
There are several examples and applications of reflection that we experience daily. Here are some of the most interesting ones:
Driving on a wet road at night becomes difficult because of reflection. This happens as a result of the glare that is caused because of the headlights. The glare happens as a result of the specular reflection. While usually, diffuse reflection takes place on the surface, it does not happen in case of wet roads. Water fills up the roads' crevices, making it smooth, which further makes the light undergo specular reflection.
Another common example can be observed with photography. Many times we have seen photographs in which the photographer captures the reflection of the surface in water. This also occurs as a result of specular reflection. The light which reflects off the water undergoes specular reflection allowing the photographer to capture the shot easily.
Does Diffuse Reflection Follow the Law of Reflection?
The law of reflection states that, for a smooth surface, when a ray of light is incident on the surface, the angle of incidence is equal to the angle of reflection.
In the case of diffused reflection, the law of reflection is not followed because the rays scatter in different directions.
Applications of Specular and Diffuse Reflection
Diffuse reflection and specular reflection can be used in a variety of ways. However, we will focus on two of the more notable applications here:
One application involves the challenge of driving at night on a wet asphalt highway as opposed to a dry asphalt roadway. Most drivers are aware that driving at night on a wet road is difficult due to glare from oncoming headlights. Glare is caused by the specular reflection of an oncoming vehicle's light beam. Rough road surfaces generally generate diffuse reflection, but when wet, water fills the cracks and smoothes the surface. Light rays from an approaching car's headlights strike this smooth surface, undergo specular reflection, and remain focused in a beam. The driver notices an obnoxious glare as a result of this concentrated beam of reflected light. The light rays strike this surface and are reflected in a specular direction.
The second use is related to photography. Most of us have seen a snapshot of a magnificent natural scene with a calm body of water in the foreground taken by a photographer. If the water is calm, we may see the specular reflection of light from the subject of the shot. Light from the subject can either hit the camera lens directly or through a longer path that includes reflections from the water. Because the light reflected off the water is specularly reflected, the incident rays stay focused (instead of diffusing). As a result, the light may travel together to the camera's lens and generate a picture (an identical reproduction) of the subject that is powerful enough to be perceived in the photograph.
Laws of Reflection
The behavior of light is well-known to be very predictable. The law of reflection states that if a ray of light approaches and reflects off a flat mirror, the light's behavior as it reflects will follow a predictable pattern. The Law of reflection states that:
According to the law of reflection, the angle of the reflected ray is equal to the angle of the incident ray when reflected off a smooth finish surface with regard to the normal to the surface, which is a line parallel to the surface at the point of contact.
At the point of contact with the incident ray, the reflected ray is always in the plane defined by the incident ray and the normal to the surface.