Physics Lesson 11.7.2 - Huygens Principle

[ 10 Votes ]

Welcome to our Physics lesson on Huygens Principle, this is the second lesson of our suite of physics lessons covering the topic of Diffraction of Waves, you can find links to the other lessons within this tutorial and access additional physics learning resources below this lesson.

Huygens Principle

The Dutch scientist Christiaan Huygens developed a useful technique for determining in detail how and where waves propagate during diffraction. Starting from some known position, Huygens's principle states that every point on a wave front is a source of wavelets that spread out in the forward direction at the same speed as the wave itself. The new wave front is tangent to all of the wavelets.

We saw the application of Huygens Principle in all examples discussed so far. For example, if a door is 73.5 cm wide and a 1400 Hz sound wave moving at 343 m/s passes through it, there are three simultaneous wavefronts produced, as

λ = v/f
= 343 m/s/1400 Hz
= 0.245 m
= 24.5 cm

Therefore, since the width of the door is d = 73.5 cm, the number of waves that can pass simultaneously through the door is

N = d/λ
= 73.5 cm/24.5 cm
= 3

Look at the figure below:

Physics Tutorials: This image provides visual information for the physics tutorial Diffraction of Waves

We will discuss more extensively Huygens Principle and diffraction in general in our Physics tutorial on "Interference and Diffraction of Light", where more numerical examples and techniques will be explained.

You have reached the end of Physics lesson 11.7.2 Huygens Principle. There are 2 lessons in this physics tutorial covering Diffraction of Waves, you can access all the lessons from this tutorial below.

More Diffraction of Waves Lessons and Learning Resources

Waves Learning Material
Tutorial IDPhysics Tutorial TitleTutorialVideo
Tutorial
Revision
Notes
Revision
Questions
11.7Diffraction of Waves
Lesson IDPhysics Lesson TitleLessonVideo
Lesson
11.7.1What is Diffraction?
11.7.2Huygens Principle

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