Wonder what diffraction grating is? To understand the principle behind this concept, one must first understand diffraction and the principles of quantum physics. Hence, no everybody really wants to study such complicated stuff. However, we experience this phenomena a lot in our daily lives. The rainbow-like iridescent reflection on CDs, DVDs, and blu-ray discs is an example of diffraction grating. Diffraction grating makes it possible to separate light containing combined wavelengths into separate beams of light. You can also see one in action at nightclubs and planetariums where they use diffraction grating on a single laser to create numerous ones for a magnificent light show that depicts stars or groovy neon lights moving in the air.
What is Diffraction Grating?
In its most simple form, diffraction grating or diffraction of light is a transparent material with microscopic groves that cause light to diffract, or separate, in different directions as it passes through the material. In many ways, imagine if you took the horizontal blinds you see covering the windows of a building and shrunk them down to a minute scale. By adjusting the angles and dimensions of the grooves, you can isolate and control the different wavelengths of light that are manipulated.
Common Uses and Applications of Diffraction Grating
- Spectrometers – tools used to measure different properties of a light source
- Monochromators – tools used to consolidate light wavelengths
- Holograms – three-dimentional images embedded in a flat surface
- Fiber-optic Communications – by splitting the data transmitted into varying wavelenghts, multiple data streams can be send over the same strand of wire.
- Optical Storage Mediums – Such as Digital Video Discs, Compact Discs and Blu-Ray discs.
- Lasers – commonly used in devices such as the DVD player or gaming console in your living room
- Light Polarization Devices – typically used in scientific or medical environments to observe things that are not possible under normal light conditions.
Diffraction Grating Manufacturing Techniques
Depending on how a the diffraction grating device is manufactured, you can expect various levels of diffraction grating efficiency. There are three main ways that diffraction gratings are manufactured today.
- Mechanical – These gratings are created using a highly-precise ruling machine that creates the groves by cutting away at the surface of an object.
- Holographic – These gratings use a method of grating the employs dual lasers. By creating a field of interference, groves are created.
- Volume Phase Holographic – Instead of etching grooves into the surface of a grating, this method uses a light-sensitive gel pressed between two surfaces. By applying laser light to the gel, manufacturers can create areas that respond differently to various light wavelengths.
Of the three methods, each have a direct effect on the diffraction grating efficiency. While VPH diffraction grating is the most durable, efficient and precise of the different types, you can expect that to be reflected in the price tag when you attempt to buy diffraction grating. By determining the exact needs for your diffraction gratings, you can choose the method with a proper fit to your application.
Where To Buy Diffraction Grating Devices
Despite its complicated sounding nature of diffraction grating, it can be easily purchased through a variety of specialized retailers both on the Internet and at storefront locations. Due to their base in physics, general science and entertainment applications, basic models of grating spectrometer can often be found at local school supply stores or laser light stores depending on your needs.