Fun with Diffraction Gratings

A laser beam passing through a transmission diffraction grating straight on gives the standard diffraction pattern we all know and love.  It's a bit more interesting, though, if the beam hits the grating at an angle:


figure 1

Most intro optics books cover this situation, and the result is (equation 1):

a[\sin(\theta_{m}) - \sin(\theta_{i})] = m\lambda

where a is the grating spacing, \theta_{m} is the angle of the mth maxima, \theta_{i} is the incident angle, m is the maxima order, and \lambda is the wavelength. We can rewrite this (homework) in a more useful way as (equation 2):

\theta_{m}=\arcsin[\frac{m\lambda}{a} + \sin(\theta_{i})]

A similar, but slightly more complicated situation happens when you rotate the grating instead of the lazer:grating

figure 2

With a rotated grating (figure 2), the laser is still hitting the grating at an angle as it is in figure 1.  So, starting with equation 2 and using some geometry we get the angles that satisfy the maxima condition:

\theta_{m'}=\arcsin(\frac{m\lambda}{a}) + \sin(\theta_{g}) - \theta_{g}

This seemed liked a fun thing to model in Mathematica, especially since I had never played with any of the graphics features before.

You can view the source here.

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