Title

‘F = ma’ optics

Document Type

Article

Publication Date

1986

Publication Title

American Journal of Physics

Department

Physics

Abstract

Fermat’s principle may be used to derive an equation, of the form F=m a, governing the shape of a light ray in a medium of varying refractive index. Many interesting problems in gradient?index optics that ordinarily require considerable computation may therefore be solved very simply by analogy to familiar mechanical problems. This approach also provides the means of thoroughly exploring the optical?mechanical analogy at a much more elementary level than is usual.

ISSN

0002-9505