GCSE Physics

Diffraction of Water Waves

Diffraction is often demonstrated with water waves in a ripple tank. A set of straight (or 'plane') waves passes through a gap in a barrier. Curved waves come out the other side:
diffraction of plane waves passing through a gap in a ripple tank
The effect is greatest when the wavelength of the waves is similar in size to the gap or object size.

Notice that the wavelength is the same on both sides - spreading out does not alter the speed of the wave, so the wavelength is unchanged.

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