Definition of refraction in English:


Line breaks: re|frac¦tion
Pronunciation: /rɪˈfrakʃ(ə)n


[mass noun] Physics
  • 1The fact or phenomenon of light, radio waves, etc. being deflected in passing obliquely through the interface between one medium and another or through a medium of varying density.
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    • The disagreement concerns one of the most fundamental and best-known phenomena in optics - refraction.
    • Central to the concept of a perfect lens is the phenomenon called refraction, which occurs when electromagnetic waves, including light, bend slightly when passing from one material into another.
    • Although it has long been known that a rainbow is produced by the dispersion of white light through rain droplets via refraction, there is far more to this optical phenomenon than first meets the eye.
  • 1.1Change in direction of propagation of any wave as a result of its travelling at different speeds at different points along the wave front.
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    • But perhaps the most immediately accessible phenomenon from an experimental or computational point of view is the reversal of wave refraction, illustrated in figure 2.
    • He produced several other papers on light, the most important being in 1839 when he applied methods used by Green to study reflection and refraction of waves at a surface.
    • Because of the effect of wave refraction, the plan shape of crenulated coasts can attain an equilibrium state.
  • 1.2Measurement of the focusing characteristics of an eye or eyes.


mid 17th century: from late Latin refractio(n-), from refringere 'break up' (see refract).

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