Abstract

We demonstrate that published vectorial laws of reflection and refraction of light based solely on the cross product do not, in general, uniquely determine the direction of the reflected and refracted waves without additional information. This is because the cross product does not have a unique inverse operation, which is explained in this Letter in linear algebra terms. However, a vector is in fact uniquely determined if both the cross product (vector product) and dot product (scalar product) with a known vector are specified, which can be written as a single equation with a left-invertible matrix. It is thus possible to amend the vectorial laws of reflection and refraction to incorporate both the cross and dot products for a complete specification with unique solution. This enables highly efficient, unambiguous computation of reflected and refracted wave vectors from the incident wave and surface normal.

© 2012 Optical Society of America

Full Article  |  PDF Article

References

You do not have subscription access to this journal. Citation lists with outbound citation links are available to subscribers only. You may subscribe either as an OSA member, or as an authorized user of your institution.

Contact your librarian or system administrator
or
Login to access OSA Member Subscription

Cited By

You do not have subscription access to this journal. Cited by links are available to subscribers only. You may subscribe either as an OSA member, or as an authorized user of your institution.

Contact your librarian or system administrator
or
Login to access OSA Member Subscription

Figures (2)

You do not have subscription access to this journal. Figure files are available to subscribers only. You may subscribe either as an OSA member, or as an authorized user of your institution.

Contact your librarian or system administrator
or
Login to access OSA Member Subscription

Equations (22)

You do not have subscription access to this journal. Equations are available to subscribers only. You may subscribe either as an OSA member, or as an authorized user of your institution.

Contact your librarian or system administrator
or
Login to access OSA Member Subscription

Metrics

You do not have subscription access to this journal. Article level metrics are available to subscribers only. You may subscribe either as an OSA member, or as an authorized user of your institution.

Contact your librarian or system administrator
or
Login to access OSA Member Subscription