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2 Key Optical Properties of Materials

Jun 18, 2019 12:45:11 PM / by Leah Langsdorf

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Optics is the study of how light, be it infrared, visible or ultraviolet, interacts with materials. At the molecular level, materials interact with photons to determine the material’s optical properties.

Understanding how materials can be modified to meet specific optical functional requirements is critical for engineers to remain on the cutting edge of the industry.

Below, we explore two key optical properties of materials.

1. Refractivity

The optical properties of a material define how it interacts with light. Take water, for example. Have you ever noticed the way a pencil appears bent when placed in a glass of water? If the answer is yes, you’re witnessing the effect of differences in refractive index. This is one of the most defining characteristics of an optical material.

In simplified terms, light is refracted when it enters a medium at an angle. When entering a different medium, the direction and speed of the light changes. The refractive index of a material will determine how much light is reflected or refracted.

By tuning the refractive index of a material to match that of other materials in an optoelectronic device, it’s possible to extract more light.

2. Transparency

The manner in which visible light interacts with an object is dependent upon the frequency of the light. Materials that are capable of transmitting light with relatively little absorption and reflection are considered optically transparent.

This is a highly valued property for many applications that utilize visible light, such as sensors and displays. Not all semiconductor materials are transparent, but polynorbornenes are typically highly transparent.

Today’s engineers are capable of processing a wide variety of optical materials. At Promerus, we can work with you to select the proper material for your unique application. Ready to get started? Download our Materials Guide.

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Topics: Semiconductor Materials, Optoelectronics

Leah Langsdorf

Written by Leah Langsdorf

Quality and Analytical Manager at Promerus