IB DP Physics: HL复习笔记9.3.2 Two-Slit Interference Patterns

Two-Slit Interference Patterns

  • For two-source interference fringes to be observed, the sources of the wave must be:
    • Coherent (constant phase difference)
    • Monochromatic (single wavelength)
  • When two waves interfere, the resultant wave depends on the phase difference between the two waves
    • This is proportional to the path difference between the waves which can be written in terms of the wavelength λ of the wave
  • As seen from the diagram, the wave from slit S2 has to travel slightly further than that from S1 to reach the same point on the screen
    • The difference in this distance is the path difference

Interference is caused by the variation in path length between the two slits

  • For constructive interference (or maxima), the difference in wavelengths will be an integer number of whole wavelengths
  • The condition for constructive interference can be written as:
  • n is the order of the maxima (bright fringes) / minima (dark fringes)
    • n = 0 is taken from the middle, n = 1 is the next peak and so on
  • When waves undergo destructive interference their amplitudes subtract to form a resultant combined wave at the point where they meet
  • The equations above are the same versions as found in your data booklet
    • Don't let other versions of these equations confuse you
    • Constructive and destructive interference can be calculated with alternative equations for specific values of n8.2.2.3-Max-and-min-interference-pattern

Interference pattern of light waves shown with orders of maxima and minima

  • An interference pattern shows the intensity of light at different distances away from the central maxima
    • For a double-slit interference pattern the intensity of the light is the same for all maxima
  • This is different to the double-slit diffraction pattern that is observed on a screen (These are explained in 9.3.3 Diffraction Grating Patterns)

Double-Slit Diffraction Geometry

  • The diffraction pattern made by waves passing through two slits of separation d can be observed on a screen placed a large distance, D, away


  • If the distance, D, between the slits and the screen is considerably larger than the slit separation,