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Rainbows from inhomogeneous transparent spheres: a ray-theoretic approach

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Abstract

A ray-theoretic account of the passage of light through a radially inhomogeneous transparent sphere has been used to establish the existence of multiple primary rainbows for some refractive index profiles. The existence of such additional bows is a consequence of a sufficiently attractive potential in the interior of the drop, i.e., the refractive index gradient should be sufficiently negative there. The profiles for which this gradient is monotonically increasing do not result in this phenomenon, but nonmonotone profiles can do so, depending on the form of n. Sufficiently oscillatory profiles can lead to apparently singular behavior in the deviation angle (within the geometrical optics approximation) as well as multiple rainbows. These results also apply to systems with circular cylindrical cross sections, and may be of value in the field of rainbow refractometry.

© 2007 Optical Society of America

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