Bending and spreading
Teaching Guidance for 14-16
Refraction's bending, diffraction's spreading
In our experience, students often confuse the terms,
diffraction. With this in mind it's useful to practice the following
Teacher: So! Let's just remind ourselves, what's the difference between refraction and diffraction of light?
Esme: Refraction's bending, diffraction's spreading.
Teacher: Exactly! Refraction involves the bending of light at some interface between two media, such as air and glass. Diffraction involves the spreading of light around a barrier or through a gap.
Bend a beam → refraction.
Spread a beam → diffraction.