related topics
{math, energy, light}
{theory, work, human}
{system, computer, user}
{area, part, region}
{disease, patient, cell}

Optics is the branch of physics which involves the behavior and properties of light, including its interactions with matter and the construction of instruments that use or detect it.[1] Optics usually describes the behavior of visible, ultraviolet, and infrared light. Because light is an electromagnetic wave, other forms of electromagnetic radiation such as X-rays, microwaves, and radio waves exhibit similar properties.[1]

Most optical phenomena can be accounted for using the classical electromagnetic description of light. Complete electromagnetic descriptions of light are, however, often difficult to apply in practice. Practical optics is usually done using simplified models. The most common of these, geometric optics, treats light as a collection of rays that travel in straight lines and bend when they pass through or reflect from surfaces. Physical optics is a more comprehensive model of light, which includes wave effects such as diffraction and interference that cannot be accounted for in geometric optics. Historically, the ray-based model of light was developed first, followed by the wave model of light. Progress in electromagnetic theory in the 19th century led to the discovery that light waves were in fact electromagnetic radiation.

Some phenomena depend on the fact that light has both wave-like and particle-like properties. Explanation of these effects requires quantum mechanics. When considering light's particle-like properties, the light is modeled as a collection of particles called "photons". Quantum optics deals with the application of quantum mechanics to optical systems.

Optical science is relevant to and studied in many related disciplines including astronomy, various engineering fields, photography, and medicine (particularly ophthalmology and optometry). Practical applications of optics are found in a variety of technologies and everyday objects, including mirrors, lenses, telescopes, microscopes, lasers, and fiber optics.


Full article ▸

related documents
Rayleigh scattering
2 Pallas
Weak interaction
Proton decay
Optical isolator
Elementary particle
Huygens–Fresnel principle
Gravitational constant
Ganymede (moon)
Olbers' paradox
Terrestrial planet
Near-Earth asteroid
Star formation
Gravitational singularity
Axial tilt
Gamma-ray astronomy
Hydrogen atom
Maxwell–Boltzmann distribution
Optical aberration
Quantum gravity
Compton scattering
Heat conduction
Zero-point energy