Wavy Diffraction Gratings

Stephen Jacobs

OSA Fellow Stephen Jacobs describes how he created “wavy gratings” by attaching a diffractive material to corrugated metal roofing. The result is a brilliant display of colors that welcomes visitors to Tucson’s City Hall and the University of Arizona’s Flandrau Science Center.


figureThe wavy grating as it is lifted to the rooftop of City Hall.

One way to turn people on to science is to let science speak for itself. An excellent example is the brilliant colors of the spectrum. And what could be a more convenient light source than the sun? Thanks to the invention of surface relief holography, large inexpensive diffraction gratings are now readily available. We see them everywhere: billboards, greeting cards, book covers, bumper stickers, wrapping paper, Christmas decorations, etc. So why not place a large flat diffraction grating in the sunshine and produce a brilliant spectrum of colors for the public to enjoy?

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