John R. Saylor

Clemson University
Department of Mechanical Engineering
Clemson, SC 29634-0921
Phone: (864) 656-5621
Fax: (864) 656-4435

E-Mail: jsaylor "at" clemson "dot" edu

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Ray Tracing Picture

Drop Optics

In this work, we simulate the optical characteristics of raindrops using a technique called `ray tracing.' Rays are traced through a drop. The effect of refraction and reflection on the ray is considered to determine the ultimate destination of the ray.

The following movie shows how a bundle of parallel light rays are refracted and reflected as they pass through an oscillating water drop. The simulation shows that even small changes in the shape of the drop have a dramatic effect on the ray trajectory. The point at which the initially parallel light rays are focused by the droplet can be seen in this movie. Hence, the water drop is also acting as a lens whose focal length changes as the drop oscillates.

Ray Tracing Movie Ray Tracing Movie - Black and White (movie by D. Lang)

In this next sequence, a similar ray tracing procedure is performed, but two different colors of light are simulated: red and blue. Because the index of refraction of water changes with wavelength, these blue and red rays do not have the same paths and this can be seen in the movie.

Ray Tracing Movie Ray Tracing Movie - Color (movie by D. Lang)

This work funded by NSF.

Last Updated September 22, 2006.