Physics Question #5057

Jack Racklyeft, a 16 year old male from North Sydney asks on July 29, 2010,

How does the temperature of a liquid effect its refractive index?

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The answer

Barry Shell answered on July 30, 2010

This answer was found at John Hanson's Refractometry Webpages at the University of Puget Sound. The speed of light in a substance is slower than in a vacuum because as the light passes through the substance it is being absorbed and reemitted by the atoms of the substance. Since the density of a liquid usually decreases with temperature, the speed of light in a liquid will normally increase as the temperature increases. Thus, the index of refraction normally decreases as the temperature increases for a liquid. A table showing the small changes in refractive index for a number of different liquids is given by Hanson on his site

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