Visit the
Molecular Expressions Website

Photo Gallery
Silicon Zoo
Chip Shots
Screen Savers
Web Resources
Java Microscopy
Win Wallpaper
Mac Wallpaper
Custom Photos
Image Use
Contact Us

Double Refraction

Light bends when it moves at an angle from one transparent substance through another. This bending of light is called refraction. Some transparent substances cause light to bend or refract in two different directions, causing light to divide into two rays. This is called double refraction or birefringence. When you look at something through a birefringent substance, you can see a double image. Iceland spar, a type of calcite crystal, is birefringent. Below, you can see a double image as you look through a piece of Iceland spar.

Interactive Java Tutorial
Our servers have detected that your web browser does not have the Java Virtual Machine installed or it is not functioning properly. Please install this software in order to view our interactive Java tutorials. You may download the necessary software by clicking on the "Get It Now" button below.


Click on the crystal to move it over the pen and text.

Scientists use many tools to look at things like crystals. One of those tools is a microscope. There are many things we can learn by looking at crystals in different ways. There are ways of looking at birefringent crystals through a microscope that can create very colorful and beautiful images. Visit our Using Microscopes to Investigate Birefringence in Crystals activity site to learn how you can view these images.

To learn more about refraction of light, visit our Refraction of Light Interactive Java Tutorial.

Questions or comments? Send us an email.
© 1995-2013 by Michael W. Davidson, Kirill I. Tchourioukanov, and The Florida State University. All Rights Reserved. No images, graphics, software, scripts, or applets may be reproduced or used in any manner without permission from the copyright holders. Use of this website means you agree to the Legal Terms and Conditions set forth by the owners.
This website is maintained by our
Graphics & Web Programming Team
in collaboration with Optical Microscopy at the
National High Magnetic Field Laboratory.
Last modification: Friday, Nov 13, 2015 at 02:19 PM
Access Count Since December 24, 1999: 107113
Visit the websites of our partners in education: