6A44.42 - Frustrated Total Internal Reflection - Steal the Signal

Code Number:
Demo Title:
Frustrated Total Internal Reflection - Steal the Signal
Barrier Penetration, Critical Angle, and Cladding Properties
Area of Study:
Laser, Light Pipes, Small Clamps, Glycerin, and Watch Glass.

See also 7A50.10 in Modern Physics.

Two sets of fiber optics light pipes from the fiber optics demonstrator kit may be used to show some interesting effects. Press them together with a C-clamp where the light beam bounces off the edge in one and the beam will be directed into the other pipe. Or you can wet the end of one of the light pipes with glycerin and press to the other light pipe at the position where the laser beam strikes the edge. The laser beam should be directed outside the first light pipe and into the second.

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  • Dale Edgar, "Simulating Optical Fibers", TPT, Vol.26, # 8, Nov. 1988, p. 504.
  • A. A. Stahlhofen, "Comment on 'Frustrated Total Internal Reflection: A Simple Application and Demonstration, AJP, Vol. 71, # 5, May 2003, p. 494", AJP, Vol. 72, # 3, March 2004, p. 412.
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  • Douglas S. Gale, "Frustrated Total Internal Reflection", AJP, Vol. 40, #7, July 1972, p. 1038.
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  • T. Kallard, "Demonstrating the Penetration of Laser Light Beyond a Totally Reflecting Interface", Exploring Laser Light, p. 65.
  • T. Kallard, "Fingerprint Observation by Frustrated Total Reflection", Exploring Laser Light, p. 64.
  • 0-258: "Light Vanish in Oil/Vaseline", DICK and RAE Physics Demo Notebook.

Disclaimer: These demonstrations are provided only for illustrative use by persons affiliated with The University of Iowa and only under the direction of a trained instructor or physicist.  The University of Iowa is not responsible for demonstrations performed by those using their own equipment or who choose to use this reference material for their own purpose.  The demonstrations included here are within the public domain and can be found in materials contained in libraries, bookstores, and through electronic sources.  Performing all or any portion of any of these demonstrations, with or without revisions not depicted here entails inherent risks.  These risks include, without limitation, bodily injury (and possibly death), including risks to health that may be temporary or permanent and that may exacerbate a pre-existing medical condition; and property loss or damage.  Anyone performing any part of these demonstrations, even with revisions, knowingly and voluntarily assumes all risks associated with them.