Journal of Materials Science

, Volume 40, Issue 3, pp 575–582 | Cite as

A simple method for the determination of refractive indices of (rough) transparent solids

  • R. J. Nussbaumer
  • M. Halter
  • T. Tervoort
  • W. R. Caseri
  • P. Smith


Simple methods for the determination of refractive indices of transparent polymers and inorganic and organic solids of irregular geometry or with scratched or corrugated surfaces are rare. A classical procedure is based on the invisibility of a body immersed in a liquid with the same refractive index as that of the body. In order to avoid the laborious procedure connected with the search for a liquid with matching refractive index and to find an approach which is independent of the observation by eye, we describe here a modified immersion method which allows the ready determination of the refractive index of solids. The present method is based on the interpolation of the maximum transmission (nTmax) of a solid immersed in liquids with different, typically non-matching, refractive indices. Illustrations with quartz glass, crown glass and poly(vinylidene fluoride) (PVDF) films showed that nTmax can be determined with a reproducibility of ± 0.003. By comparison with refractive indices determined by ellipsometry, it was concluded that the refractive index of a solid can be determined with the modified immersion method within an accuracy better than ± 0.01 when systematic errors resulting from the fit method are also taken into consideration.


Quartz Refractive Index Fluoride Systematic Error PVDF 
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Copyright information

© Springer Science + Business Media, Inc. 2005

Authors and Affiliations

  • R. J. Nussbaumer
    • 1
  • M. Halter
    • 1
  • T. Tervoort
    • 1
  • W. R. Caseri
    • 1
  • P. Smith
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of MaterialsEidgenössische Technische Hochschule ZürichZürichSwitzerland

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