Thin-film interference pattern shown by bubble film, 1980-2000.

 
Thin-film interference pattern shown by bubble film, 1980-2000.
4 0 c m
 
35cm
actual image size: 27cm x 32cm

Description

White light contains a range of different colours - wavelengths of electromagnetic radiation - that the human eye cannot distinguish. Waves can 'interfere' with one another, so that if two waves combine, they either reinforce each other (when the peaks of two waves coincide) or cancel one another out (when the peak of one wave coincides with the trough of the other). In thin bubble films, light reflected from one surface of the film interferes with light reflected from the other, resulting in a range of colourful effects known as an interference pattern, or fringe.

© Science Museum / Science & Society Picture Library

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