diffraction pattern

noun Physics.

  1. the phenomenon exhibited by wave fronts that, passing the edge of an opaque body, are modulated, thereby causing a redistribution of energy within the front: it is detectable in light waves by the presence of a pattern of closely spaced dark and light bands (diffraction pattern) at the edge of a shadow.
  2. the bending of waves, especially sound and light waves, around obstacles in their path.


  1. physics the distinctive pattern of light and dark fringes, rings, etc, formed by diffraction


  1. physics a deviation in the direction of a wave at the edge of an obstacle in its path
  2. any phenomenon caused by diffraction and interference of light, such as the formation of light and dark fringes by the passage of light through a small aperture
  3. deflection of sound waves caused by an obstacle or by nonhomogeneity of a medium

1670s, from French diffraction (17c.) or directly from Modern Latin diffractionem (nominative diffractio), noun of action from past participle stem of Latin diffringere “break in pieces,” from dis- “apart” (see dis-) + frangere “to break” (see fraction).


  1. Change in the directions and intensities of a group of waves after passing by an obstacle or through an aperture.

  1. The interference pattern that results when a wave or a series of waves undergoes diffraction, as when passed through a diffraction grating or the lattices of a crystal. The pattern provides information about the frequency of the wave and the structure of the material causing the diffraction. See also interferometer.

  1. The bending and spreading of a wave, such as a light wave, around the edge of an object. See more at wave.

The breaking up of an incoming wave by some sort of geometrical structure — for example, a series of slits — followed by reconstruction of the wave by interference. Diffraction of light is characterized by alternate bands of light and dark or bands of different colors.

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