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Ultrasonic Diffraction by a Straight Edge 1.5.23


Related topics Base f. opt. profile-bench, adjust. 08284.00 2

Longitudinal waves, superposition of waves, Huygens’ princi- Slide mount f. opt. profile-bench, h = 80 mm 08286.02 1
ple, Interference, Fraunhofer and Fresnel diffraction, Fresnel Screen metal, 30x30 cm 08062.00 2
zones, Fresnel integrals, Cornu’s spiral. Barrel base “PASS” 02006.55 1
Tripod base “PASS” 02002.55 1
Principle Right angle clamp “PASS” 02040.55 2
An ultrasonic wave hits a straight edge which limits the wave Support rod “PASS”, l = 40 cm 02026.55 1
field to one side. According to Huygens’ principle, the edge is Stand tube 02060.00 1
a point source for secondary waves, and these penetrate also Measuring tape 09936.00 1
into the shaded area of the edge. In the transmission range, Connecting cord, l = 50 cm, red 07361.01 1
secondary waves interfere with the primary waves, so that a Connecting cord, l = 50 cm, blue 07361.04 1
succession of maxima and minima of the alternating sound
pressure are created transverse to the edge.
Equipment 1. Determine the intensity distribution of an ultrasonic wave
Ultrasonic unit 13900.00 1 diffracted at a straight edge as a function of the transverse
Power supply f. ultrasonic unit, 5 VDC, 12 W 13900.99 1 distance from the edge.
Ultrasonic transmitter on stem 13901.00 1 2. Compare the positions of the maxima and minima found in
Ultrasonic receiver on stem 13902.00 1 the experiment to those theoretically expected.
Analog multimeter 07028.01 1 3. Repeat the measurement of the intensity distribution of the
Optical profile-bench, l = 60 cm 08283.00 1 ultrasonic wave without the straight edge.

Fig. 1: Experimental set-up

PHYWE series of publications • Laboratory Experiments • Physics • © PHYWE SYSTEME GMBH & Co. KG • D-37070 Göttingen 21523-00 1
1.5.23 Ultrasonic Diffraction by a Straight Edge

Set-up and procedure It is possible, however, to use the following approximation as

Set up the experiment as shown in Fig. 1. The diagram in an approach to evaluating the experimental results.
Fig. 2 provides additional information on the geometrical dis- Fig. 3 shows a plane wave that is moving towards an edge.
tances of the components (Fig. 2a: Plan; Fig. 2b: Side view).
The axes of transmitter T, receiver R and the edge must be in Fig. 3: Diagram of diffraction at an edge.
line. To set up the edge, mount the two metal screens so that
there is no slit between them or the experimental table. Check
that the transmitter and the receiver are at the same height.

Fig. 2: Diagram of the arrangement of the components.

a.) b.)
Connect the transmitter to the TR1 diode socket of the ultra- According to Huygens’ principle, the disturbing edge is a point
sonic unit and operate it in continuous mode “Con“. Connect source of scattered waves which also pass into the shaded
the receiver to the left BNC socket (in front of the amplifier). area, but with decreasing intensity. In the transmission range,
Connect it to the analog output of the analog multimeter for the scattered waves interfere with undisturbed successive pri-
display of the signal received subsequent to amplification and mary waves.
rectification. On displacing the observed position transverse to the edge in
Avoid operating the amplifier in the saturation range to ensure the positive x direction, the intensity of the undisturbed wave
proportionality between the input signal and the analog output remains constant, but that of the scattered wave decreases.
signal. Should such a case occur and the “OVL“ diode light Superpositioning of the two waves results in the formation of
up, reduce either the transmitter amplitude or the input ampli- intensity maxima and minima which weaken with increasing
fication. transverse distance from the edge.
Two measurement series are to be recorded: The 1st mea- Constructive interference at the oberved position x is given
surement series with a diffracting straight edge; the 2nd mea- when the path difference between the two wave trains is a
surement series without a diffracting straight edge (remove the whole number of a wavelength l. When r0 is the distance of
metal screens set-up for this). the observed plane from the edge, and l is the distance of the
To record the 1st measurement series, slide the receiver par- observed position from the edge (see Fig. 4), then the follow-
allel to the edge sheets in steps of ∆x = 0.5 cm outside of the ing is valid for the constructive interference at the observed
shaded area (and steps of ∆x = 1 cm in the shaded area) and position x:
record the corresponding receiver voltages U.
For determining intensities without a diffracting straight edge, nl  l  r0  2r20  x2 ; n  1, 2, 3, ... (1)
steps of ∆x = 1.0 cm can be used throughout the measure-
ment. Using n2l2 < 2nlr0 we obtain the following for the position of
the intensity maxima:
As a rule, interference to the measurement field by reflected xmax  22n lr0 (2)
sound can hardly be completely avoided. To keep such inter-
ference as small as possible, do not carry out the experiment
Fig. 4: Geometry for determining the path difference between
in narrow rooms, and do not set the experiment up in the
primary and secondary waves.
immediate vicinity of reflecting surfaces (walls, cupboards

Theory and evaluation

We cannot apply Frauenhofer diffraction to diffraction of a
wave at an edge, as the waves at the point observed come
from different directions.
Treating the problem by use of Fresnel’s diffraction theory is
mathematically very elaborate and outside the scope of work
at this level.
Detailed presentations of the problem are to be found in the
books listed under “Literature“.

2 21523-00 PHYWE series of publications • Laboratory Experiments • Physics • © PHYWE SYSTEME GMBH & Co. KG • D-37070 Göttingen
Ultrasonic Diffraction by a Straight Edge 1.5.23

Destructive interference occurs, when the path difference (l-r0) The above considerations on the determination of interference
is an odd-numbered multiple of l/2. For small n values and conditions were based on the simplification of plane primary
r0 >> l the following is analogously valid for the x positions of waves. This assumption is not fulfilled by the transmitter, how-
the intensity minima: ever, as this is an almost point-like sender with a club-shaped
transmitting characteristic, which is the reason for the
decrease in the intensity of the alternating sound pressure at
xmin  212n  12 lr0 ; n  1, 2, 3, ... (3)
observation positions of x > 10 cm.
From Fresnel’s theory, for diffraction at an edge, the intensity
Fig. 5a shows the experimentally determined course of the
I and the amplitude A at position x = 0 are as follows, where
intensity on diffraction at the edge. The course of the intensi-
I0 and A0 are the corresponding values at the same position
ty without edge is shown in curve Fig. 5b.
without a diffracting edge:
The transmitter operates at a frequency f = 40 kHz. It follows
I(x = 0) = 1/4 I0 S A(x = 0) = 1/2 A0 (4)
from c = f · l (c = 343.4 ms-1 at T = 20°C) that the wavelength
of the ultrasound l = 0.858 cm.
Intensity I is proportional to the square of amplitude
In the region of the geometrical shade limit (-x are), the inten-
A (I r A2).
sity increases continuously and has a 1st maximum outside of
In our experiment, the measured voltage U is directly propor-
the shaded limit, at which the intensity is surprisingly higher
tional to the amplitude A of the alternating sound pressure, so
than the intensity without edge diffraction (curve b).
that acc. to equation 4, the following is also valid:
Table 1 lists the experimentally found positions of the intensi-
ty maxima and minima, as well as the comparative values cal-
U(x = 0) = 1/2 U0 (5)
culated using equations 1 and 2.

Fig. 5: Course of intensity of the alternating sound pressure as function of position coordinate x (5a: With diffraction at an edge;
5b: Without an edge).

Table 1: Positions of the extremes of interference

Maxima Minima

Experiment Theory Experiment Theory

n xExp / cm xTheor / cm xExp / xTheor xExp / cm xTheor / cm xExp / xTheor

1 6.0 8.3 - 27.7 % 9.5 10.1 - 5.9 %

2 11.5 11.7 + 1.7 % 13.7 13.1 + 4.6 %

3 15.5 14.3 + 8.4 % 17.3 15.5 + 11.6 %

4 18.5 16.6 + 11.4 % 20.7 17.6 + 17.6 %

5 22.0 18.5 + 18.9 %

PHYWE series of publications • Laboratory Experiments • Physics • © PHYWE SYSTEME GMBH & Co. KG • D-37070 Göttingen 21523-00 3
1.5.23 Ultrasonic Diffraction by a Straight Edge

This expression is confirmed by the experiment. In Fig. 5a

(with edge), x = 0 has the ordinate value Ux=0 = 1.4 V. Fig. 5b
(without edge) shows a horizontal best straight line with an
ordinate value of U = 2.8 V (= 2 · Ux=0) in the region in which
the influence of the club-shaped transmitter characteristic is

Hecht/Zajac: Optics; Addison-Wesley Publishing Company
Jenkins and White: Fundamentals of Optics; McGraw-Hill
Book Company

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