Does electromagnetic diffraction ever equal zero?

Matilda Fox
2022-07-20
Answered

Does electromagnetic diffraction ever equal zero?

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gardapati5u

Answered 2022-07-21
Author has **9** answers

No. The diffraction of electromagnetic waves emerging from a confined opening can never be equal to zero. If you keep the dimensions of the problem constant, then by going to shorter and shorter wavelengths you can (in principle) make the diffraction be arbitrarily small, but it will always be positive and it will not reach zero, and no amount of "calculus magic" will make this go away.

That said, what you can do is use wavelengths that are so short compared to your problem that the diffraction, while remaining positive, becomes negligible. In this regime, light doesn't really begin behaving like a particle; instead, you reach a regime called ray, or geometrical, optics, which is the approach often taught at high-school level where you treat rays of light as propagating in straight lines independently of each other. For more on the maths of how that limit works, see this or this questions on this site.

That said, what you can do is use wavelengths that are so short compared to your problem that the diffraction, while remaining positive, becomes negligible. In this regime, light doesn't really begin behaving like a particle; instead, you reach a regime called ray, or geometrical, optics, which is the approach often taught at high-school level where you treat rays of light as propagating in straight lines independently of each other. For more on the maths of how that limit works, see this or this questions on this site.

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