What is reflection of light, and its types? Also, explain "The Laws of Reflection" in brief.


First of all, let's understand, What is reflection?

Reflection is defined as the change in direction of a wave/light at a boundary between two different media so that the wave moves back into the medium it came from. The most common examples include the reflection of light, & sound.

What is the Reflection of Light?

Reflection of light is either a specular/regular reflection (smooth polished surface like a mirror, smooth metal surfaces, and clear water) or diffused/irregular reflection  (such as non-metallic material - white marble) depending on the nature of the interface.

1. Specular/ Regular reflection - It is the common mirror-like reflection of the light rays. In this type of reflection, the rays of light that are reflected from a smooth and shiny object such as a mirror, are reflected at a definitive angle and each incident ray which is reflected along with the reflected ray has the same angle to the normal as the incident ray. Thus, this type of reflection produces a clear image.


2. Diffused/ Irregular reflection - It is a non-mirror-like reflection of light rays. In this type of reflection, the rays of light hit an irregular object with a rough surface such as white marble, plaster, and wind-blown water, are reflected back and scatter in all directions. Here, incident ray is reflected at many angles rather than at just one angle as in the case of specular reflection. Thus, this type of reflection produces a disrupted image.


Laws of Reflection 

The ray of light that approaches the mirror is known as “Incident Ray”. The ray that bounces back is called the "Reflected Ray". At the point of incidence where the incident ray strikes the mirror, a perpendicular line is drawn called the “Normal”.

The law of reflection states that-

(i) The incident ray, the reflected ray and the normal all lie in the same plane.

(ii) The angle of incidence = Angle of reflection.

The law of reflection is obeyed by both the Specular/ Regular reflection, and the Diffused/ Irregular reflection.

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Updated on: 10-Oct-2022

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