6A65.40 - Spherical Aberration

Code Number:
Demo Title:
Spherical Aberration
Spherical and Chromatic Aberration
Area of Study:
Optics Table, 30 cm Focal Length Lens, 48 cm Focal Length Lens, Slide Projector (Distant Light), and Cardboard Stops.

Spherical Aberration - Use the slide projector as a distant collimated light source.  Place the 30 or 48 cm lens in the optics rail and focus onto the paper screen.  By stopping out the middle or the edge of the lens you can show that the focal point is different for the inner and outer portions of the lens.

  • Mark Riegel and Brian Holmes, "Model of Astigmatism", TPT, Vol. 26, #2, Feb. 1988, p. 96.
  • Walter D. Furlan, L. Muñoz-Escrivá, A. Pons, and M. Martı́nez-Corral, "Optical Aberrations Measurement with a Low Cost Optometric Instrument", AJP, Vol. 70, #8, Aug. 2002, p. 857.
  • Se‐yuen Mak, "Longitudinal Spherical Aberration of a Thick Lens", AJP, Vol. 55, #3, Mar. 1987, p. 247.
  • Xiangxi Chen, Jacob Huang, and Eddie Loh, "Computer-Assisted Teaching of Optics", AJP, Vol. 55, #12, Dec. 1987, p. 1129.
  • A. R. Lachaine and P. Rochon, "A Simple Demonstration of Spherical Aberration", AJP, Vol. 51, #9, Sep. 1983, p. 853.
  • W. W. Duley, "Measurement of Longitudinal Spherical Aberration of a Thin Lens with a Laser", AJP, Vol. 36, #9, Sept. 1968, p. 847.
  • G. B. Friedmann and H. S. Sandhu, "Longitudinal Spherical Aberration of a Thin Lens", AJP, Vol. 35, #7, July 1967, p. 628.
  • Daniel Nahshol, "Optical Aberrations—Demonstration and Measuring", AJP, Vol. 33, #11, Nov. 1965, p. 970. 
  • David Grossman, "How One Mathematician Solved a 2,000-Year-Old Lens Problem", Popular Mechanics, Vol. 196, #8, Nov. 2019, p. 24.
  • "O-370. Stops - Apertures & Obstacles", DICK and RAE Physics Demo Notebook.
  • "O-170. Spherical Aberration", DICK and RAE Physics Demo Notebook.
  • G. D. Freier and F. J. Anderson, "Oh-1", A Demonstration Handbook for Physics.
  • John Henry Pepper, "Spectrum Analysis", Cyclopadic Science Simplified, p. 86.
  • "36-6. Demonstrations of Polarization", Physics Demonstration Experiments, Vol. I & II.
  • John H. Moore, Christopher C. Davis, and Michael A. Coplan, "Spherical Aberrations", Building Scientific Apparatus 2nd Edition, p. 146.
  • Ron Hipschman, "Image Quality", Exploratorium Cookbook III, pp. 167.1 - 167.3.
  • C. Harvey Palmer, "Experiment A10: Spherical Aberration",  Optics - Experiments and Demonstrations, John Hopkins Press, 1962.
  • "5. Spherical Aberation", Experiments in Optics, Part 1, J. Klinger Scientific Apparatus Corp., Bulletin 101.
  • Joseph Frick, "#170 - Spherical Aberration", Physical Technics: Or, Practical Instructions for Making Experiments in Physics and the Construction of Physical Apparatus with the Most Limited Means", p. 199.

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.