- 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.
- the bending of waves, especially sound and light waves, around obstacles in their path.
- physics the distinctive pattern of light and dark fringes, rings, etc, formed by diffraction
- physics a deviation in the direction of a wave at the edge of an obstacle in its path
- 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
- 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).
- Change in the directions and intensities of a group of waves after passing by an obstacle or through an aperture.
- 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.
- 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.