# Schawlows Ruler

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Schawlow’s Ruler

Every color on the visible light spectrum has a distinct wavelength. These wavelengths can be measured by using the diffraction pattern of the light. In this experiment we used a HeNe laser and a green laser pointer with known wavelengths of 632.8x10-9m and 532.0x10-9m respectively. We aimed the lasers at a slight angle from horizontal onto a precision steel ruler with 0.5x10-3m and 1.0x10-3m rulings. When the laser is incident on the rulings, it reflects onto a surface showing the diffraction pattern. After measuring the spacing between each bright spot, we calculated the wavelength for each ruling used for the HeNe laser and for the green laser pointer. The measured wavelength for the HeNe laser at 0.5x10-3m rulings is (632.6±1.3)x10-9m and 1.0x10-3m rulings is (632.6±1.4)x10-9m. For the green laser point the measured wavelength is (632.6±1.4)x10-9m. I. Introduction Every color of light has a diffraction pattern specific to its wavelength. In this experiment we used a ruler to determine the wavelength (λ) of a HeNe laser. The HeNe laser has a known wavelength of 632.8x10-9m. We also measured the wavelength of a green laser pointer with a known wavelength of 532.9x10-9m. This experiment was first done by A. L. Schawlow in 1965 at Stanford University.1

II. Setup and Procedure We used a steel precision ruler with two different spacing’s between the rulings: d=0.5x10-3m and d=1.0x10-3m. We aimed the HeNe laser at a shallow angle (measured from the horizontal) onto the ruler as shown in figure 1. When the light hit the rulings, diffraction occurred and the pattern was then visible on the wall. Figure 1 Setup for Schawlow's ruler experiment. The laser is aimed at a slight angle; the diffraction pattern is then seen on the wall. Once we aligned the laser so the diffraction pattern was clear, we marked each bright...

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