We are independent & ad-supported. We may earn a commission for purchases made through our links.
Advertiser Disclosure
Our website is an independent, advertising-supported platform. We provide our content free of charge to our readers, and to keep it that way, we rely on revenue generated through advertisements and affiliate partnerships. This means that when you click on certain links on our site and make a purchase, we may earn a commission. Learn more.
How We Make Money
We sustain our operations through affiliate commissions and advertising. If you click on an affiliate link and make a purchase, we may receive a commission from the merchant at no additional cost to you. We also display advertisements on our website, which help generate revenue to support our work and keep our content free for readers. Our editorial team operates independently of our advertising and affiliate partnerships to ensure that our content remains unbiased and focused on providing you with the best information and recommendations based on thorough research and honest evaluations. To remain transparent, we’ve provided a list of our current affiliate partners here.

What are Newton's Rings?

By Katriena Knights
Updated May 21, 2024
Our promise to you
All The Science is dedicated to creating trustworthy, high-quality content that always prioritizes transparency, integrity, and inclusivity above all else. Our ensure that our content creation and review process includes rigorous fact-checking, evidence-based, and continual updates to ensure accuracy and reliability.

Our Promise to you

Founded in 2002, our company has been a trusted resource for readers seeking informative and engaging content. Our dedication to quality remains unwavering—and will never change. We follow a strict editorial policy, ensuring that our content is authored by highly qualified professionals and edited by subject matter experts. This guarantees that everything we publish is objective, accurate, and trustworthy.

Over the years, we've refined our approach to cover a wide range of topics, providing readers with reliable and practical advice to enhance their knowledge and skills. That's why millions of readers turn to us each year. Join us in celebrating the joy of learning, guided by standards you can trust.

Editorial Standards

At All The Science, we are committed to creating content that you can trust. Our editorial process is designed to ensure that every piece of content we publish is accurate, reliable, and informative.

Our team of experienced writers and editors follows a strict set of guidelines to ensure the highest quality content. We conduct thorough research, fact-check all information, and rely on credible sources to back up our claims. Our content is reviewed by subject-matter experts to ensure accuracy and clarity.

We believe in transparency and maintain editorial independence from our advertisers. Our team does not receive direct compensation from advertisers, allowing us to create unbiased content that prioritizes your interests.

The term "Newton's rings" refers to a phenomenon that occurs when a curved piece of glass, typically a convex lens, is put in contact with a flat piece of glass. The curved glass sits on the flat glass, creating a film of air between them is increasingly larger along the length of the curve. When white light is directed into the curved glass, a series of concentric circles, like a bull's eye, appears. Sir Isaac Newton was the first to observe the phenomenon, which is why the concentric rings are referred to as Newton's rings.

The concentric circles produced by the Newton's rings phenomenon typically are dark alternating with bright, with the dark beginning in the center. The phenomenon occurs as a result of interference between the light reflected by the two surfaces. In practical application, Newton's rings can be used by lens makers to determine the quality of a lens. In a well-made lens, the rings should be uniform.

In the center of the rings, the largest ring, which forms a full circle, is dark. Remaining rings alternate between dark and light because of the nature of the interference that creates them. Light waves reflected from the two pieces of glass cause both destructive and constructive interference. In destructive interference, the high point of one wave meets the low point of the other, and they effectively cancel out each other. Constructive interference occurs when the high or low points of the light waves align with each other.

Another characteristic of the Newton's ring phenomenon is that the circles nearer the center are thicker than those on the periphery of the circle. This has to do with the curvature of the convex lens. As the lens becomes more distant from the flat glass beneath it, the rings become thinner and closer together.

Sir Isaac Newton first discussed the observation of these rings in 1675. He also described the phenomenon in his 1705 book "Optics." Originally, his Newton's rings experiment used glass that created a wedge-shaped space, but later versions of the experiment used a convex lens. Modern instruments created to demonstrate the phenomenon also use a convex lens.

Though modern scientists believe that Newton's rings are caused by light waves, Newton himself saw the phenomenon as supporting his theory that light consisted of particles. Some of his discoveries and observations, however, required him to use theories that aligned with wave theory. Observing Newton's rings is only one of the many scientific theories Newton made; in fact, many believe that he made a larger contribution to scientific knowledge than anyone else in history.

All The Science is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
Discussion Comments
By anon129346 — On Nov 23, 2010

newtons rings is applied to find out the wavelength of the light which is made incident on the plano convex lens. we can find out the radius of the planoconvex lens if we know the wavelength by the formula.

By anon127467 — On Nov 16, 2010

what are the applications of newton's ring?

All The Science, in your inbox

Our latest articles, guides, and more, delivered daily.

All The Science, in your inbox

Our latest articles, guides, and more, delivered daily.