Education

Examples of Diffuse Reflection

We know that colored objects can have both specular and diffuse reflection, but usually only the former. For example, a cherry will reflect mostly red light but absorb all other colors, resulting in a purely white specular reflection. The reflectivity of most materials depends on their refractive index, which varies little with wavelength. In prisms, this makes all colors appear with the same intensity. Similarly, a rough surface will reflect light in several directions.

The best example of diffuse reflection is the reflection of light off of a rough surface. Rough surfaces will scatter light in many directions. Examples of materials that reflect light diffusely include mirror glass, glossy paints, and blotting papers. Even light scattered on glass or other rough surfaces will produce diffuse reflection. This is what gives us our sense of sight. If you look into a glass or mirror, the rays will bounce off the surface and form a picture of the object in the observer’s eye.

Almost any surface will reflect light. Glass, bicycles, eyeglasses, and clothing will reflect light. However, the rays of light will not all be parallel. In diffuse reflection, light from different surfaces will scatter in different directions, depending on the angle of incidence. Further, light will also reflect off a polished surface. Almost anything you see will reflect light, including shiny surfaces. If you’re wondering what these surfaces are, you’ll be glad to know that a lot of everyday materials exhibit both types of reflection.

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