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Updated by bd04100 on May 21, 2018
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Interference of Waves Simulations

This list of online simulations provides resources to help physics students understand interference, reflection, double slit interference, single slit interference, and thin film interference.


Pivot Interactives Wave Reflection and Superposition

This link shows videos of real waves made on a spring. By selecting different options students can see the waves reflect at a fixed and free boundary as well as see what happens when the waves are super-imposed both out of phase and in phase. The frame by frame feature allows students to really undersand what happens to the waves as they interact. These videos are a great introduction to both reflection and interference of waves.

Note: Pivot Interactives is a paid subscription site but this video is a free demo that can be accessed without logging in. The Pivot Interactives site works well in Google Chrome but does not seem to work in Internet Explorer. You may need to experiment with browsers to use this one.


Geogebra Wave Pulse Reflection

This simulation allows student to see a virtual model of the reflection that occurs when a wave meets a free and a fixed boundary. It can be used in conjunction with the Pivot Interactive video that shows the same phenomenon.


Geogebra Wave Pulse Interference and Superposition

This simulation allows students to see a virtual model of the interference of two wave pulses and allows them to change the amplitude and the width of each pulse. Students can pause the simulation and use a dial to adjust the time and see exactly how the amplitudes of the two pulses add together to create the resultant wave. It can be used in conjunction with the Pivot Interactive video that shows the same phenomenon.


Blue Light Special (Double Slit Interference Simulation)

This simulation allows students to complete labs and determine the relationship between the distance between the two slits and the interference pattern while holding the wavelength of light constant as well as the relationship between the wavelength of light and interference pattern while holding the distance between the two slits constant.

Note: This simulation requires ADOBE FLASH PLAYER. I have found that it works perfectly in internet explorer but does not work for me in Google Chrome. You may have to experiment with browsers in order to get this one to work but it is a great simulation that allows students to get good measurements for virtual labs.


Geogebra Double Slit Interference

This simulation shows the wave fronts from two waves that have passed through a double slit barrier. It does a good job of letting students see how the wave fronts overlap to create areas of constructive and destructive interference. I recommend using it after the double slit interference simulation above to show how the patterns formed are created by constructive and destructive interference.


Walter-Fendt Single Slit Interference

This simulation allows students to view the interference pattern by a single slit in a barrier and measure the angle between the central maximum and the first minimum produced. Students can complete labs in which they hold the wavelength constant while varying the width of the slit or hold the width of the slit constant while varying the wavelength of light use in order to determine the relationships between the slit width, wavelength of light, and interference pattern produced.


Geogebra Thin Film Interference

This simulation allows students to change the thickness of a thin film as well as the index of refraction of the film and its surrounding and then shows wavelengths that have constructive and destructive interference. It also shows the path of the rays reflected off of the front and back of the thin film. The values produced can be used to explain the thin film interference equations for constructive and destructive interference.


Geogebra Thin Film Interference 2

This simulation shows the incident wave, wave reflected off the front of the film, and wave reflected off the back of the film so students can see how the waves are reflected off of each surface and interact with each other. Students can adjust the thickness of the film and the indices of refraction of the three media and see the different effects. This simulation gives a good conceptual base to go with the quantitative values students can get from the simulation above.