Useful Notes on the 4 Various Theories of the Nature of Light

1. Corpuscular Theory of Light:

Newton, the great among the greatest, proposed in 1675 A.D. that light consists of tiny particles called corpuscles which are shot out at high speed by a luminous object. This theory could explain the reflection, refraction and rectilinear propagation of light.

2. Wave Theory of Light Wave:

In 1678, Dutch scientist Christian Huygens suggested that light travels in the form of longitudinal waves just as sound propagates through air.

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Later on, Fresnel and Young showed that light propagates as a transverse wave. This successfully explained the reflection, refraction as well as interference, diffraction and polarization of light waves.

3. Electromagnetic Nature of Light Waves:

In 1873, Maxwell suggested that light propagates as electric and magnetic field oscillations. These are called electromagnetic waves which require no medium for their propagation. Also, these waves are transverse in nature.

4. Planck’s Quantum Theory of Light:

According to Max Planck, light travels in the form of small packets of energy called photons. In 1905, Albert Einstein used this theory to explain photoelectric effect (emission of electrons from a metal surface when light falls on it).

So we see that in phenomena like interference, diffraction and polarization, light behaves as a wave while in photoelectric effect, it behaves as a particle, de Bogie suggested that light has a dual nature, i.e., it can behave as particles as well as waves.

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