An oxide is a chemical compound that contains at least one oxygen atom and one other element in its chemical formula. "Oxide" itself is the dianion of an O2 -- atom. Metal oxides thus contain an anion of oxygen in the oxidation state of −2. Most of the Earth's crust consists of solid oxides, the result of elements being oxidized by the oxygen in air or in water. Hydrocarbon combustion affords the two principal carbon oxides: carbon monoxide and carbon dioxide. Materials considered pure elements develop an oxide coating. For example, aluminium foil develops a thin skin of Al2O3 that protects the foil from further corrosion. Individual elements can form multiple oxides, each containing different amounts of the element and oxygen. In some cases these are distinguished by specifying the number of atoms as in carbon monoxide and carbon dioxide, in other cases by specifying the element's oxidation number, as in iron oxide and iron oxide. Certain elements can form many different oxides, such as those of nitrogen.
Due to its electronegativity, oxygen forms stable chemical bonds with all elements to give the corresponding oxides. Noble metals are prized because they resist direct chemical combination with oxygen, substances like gold oxide must be generated by indirect routes. Two independent pathways for corrosion of elements are oxidation by oxygen; the combination of water and oxygen is more corrosive. All elements burn in an atmosphere of oxygen or an oxygen-rich environment. In the presence of water and oxygen, some elements— sodium—react to give the hydroxides. In part, for this reason and alkaline earth metals are not found in nature in their metallic, i.e. native, form. Cesium is so reactive with oxygen that it is used as a getter in vacuum tubes, solutions of potassium and sodium, so-called NaK are used to deoxygenate and dehydrate some organic solvents; the surface of most metals consists of hydroxides in the presence of air. A well-known example is aluminium foil, coated with a thin film of aluminium oxide that passivates the metal, slowing further corrosion.
The aluminum oxide layer can be built to greater thickness by the process of electrolytic anodizing. Though solid magnesium and aluminum react with oxygen at STP—they, like most metals, burn in air, generating high temperatures. Finely grained powders of most metals can be dangerously explosive in air, they are used in solid-fuel rockets. In dry oxygen, iron forms iron oxide, but the formation of the hydrated ferric oxides, Fe2O3−x2x, that comprise rust requires oxygen and water. Free oxygen production by photosynthetic bacteria some 3.5 billion years ago precipitated iron out of solution in the oceans as Fe2O3 in the economically important iron ore hematite. Oxides have a range of different structures, from individual molecules to polymeric and crystalline structures. At standard conditions, oxides may range from solids to gases. Oxides of most metals adopt polymeric structures; the oxide links three metal atoms or six metal atoms. Because the M-O bonds are strong and these compounds are crosslinked polymers, the solids tend to be insoluble in solvents, though they are attacked by acids and bases.
The formulas are deceptively simple. Many are nonstoichiometric compounds; some important gaseous oxides. Examples of molecular oxides are carbon monoxide. All simple oxides of nitrogen are molecular, e.g. NO, N2O, NO2 and N2O4. Phosphorus pentoxide is a more complex molecular oxide with a deceptive name, the real formula being P4O10; some polymeric oxides depolymerize when heated to give molecules, examples being selenium dioxide and sulfur trioxide. Tetroxides are rare; the more common examples: ruthenium tetroxide, osmium tetroxide, xenon tetroxide. Many oxyanions are known, such as polyoxometalates. Oxycations are rarer, some examples being nitrosonium and uranyl. Of course many compounds are known with other groups. In organic chemistry, these include many related carbonyl compounds. For the transition metals, many oxo complexes are known as well as oxyhalides. Conversion of a metal oxide to the metal is called reduction; the reduction can be induced by many reagents. Many metal oxides convert to metals by heating.
Metals are "won" from their oxides by chemical reduction, i.e. by the addition of a chemical reagent. A common and cheap reducing agent is carbon in the form of coke; the most prominent example is that of iron ore smelting. Many reactions are involved, but the simplified equation is shown as: 2 Fe2O3 + 3 C → 4 Fe + 3 CO2Metal oxides can be reduced by organic compounds; this redox process is the basis for many important transformations in chemistry, such as the detoxification of drugs by the P450 enzymes and the production of ethylene oxide, converted to antifreeze. In such systems, the metal center transfers an oxide ligand to the organic compound followed by regeneration of the metal oxide by oxygen in the air. Metals that are lower in the reactivity series can be reduced by heating alone. For example, silver oxide decomposes at 200 °C: 2 Ag2O → 4 Ag + O2 Metals that are more reactive displace the oxide of the metals that are less reactive. For example, zinc is more reactive than copper, so it displaces copper oxide to form zinc oxide: Zn + CuO → ZnO + Cu Apart from metals, hydrogen can displace metal oxides to form hydrogen oxide
A crystal or crystalline solid is a solid material whose constituents are arranged in a ordered microscopic structure, forming a crystal lattice that extends in all directions. In addition, macroscopic single crystals are identifiable by their geometrical shape, consisting of flat faces with specific, characteristic orientations; the scientific study of crystals and crystal formation is known as crystallography. The process of crystal formation via mechanisms of crystal growth is called crystallization or solidification; the word crystal derives from the Ancient Greek word κρύσταλλος, meaning both "ice" and "rock crystal", from κρύος, "icy cold, frost". Examples of large crystals include snowflakes and table salt. Most inorganic solids are not crystals but polycrystals, i.e. many microscopic crystals fused together into a single solid. Examples of polycrystals include most metals, rocks and ice. A third category of solids is amorphous solids, where the atoms have no periodic structure whatsoever.
Examples of amorphous solids include glass and many plastics. Despite the name, lead crystal, crystal glass, related products are not crystals, but rather types of glass, i.e. amorphous solids. Crystals are used in pseudoscientific practices such as crystal therapy, along with gemstones, are sometimes associated with spellwork in Wiccan beliefs and related religious movements; the scientific definition of a "crystal" is based on the microscopic arrangement of atoms inside it, called the crystal structure. A crystal is a solid where the atoms form a periodic arrangement.. Not all solids are crystals. For example, when liquid water starts freezing, the phase change begins with small ice crystals that grow until they fuse, forming a polycrystalline structure. In the final block of ice, each of the small crystals is a true crystal with a periodic arrangement of atoms, but the whole polycrystal does not have a periodic arrangement of atoms, because the periodic pattern is broken at the grain boundaries.
Most macroscopic inorganic solids are polycrystalline, including all metals, ice, etc. Solids that are neither crystalline nor polycrystalline, such as glass, are called amorphous solids called glassy, vitreous, or noncrystalline; these have no periodic order microscopically. There are distinct differences between crystalline solids and amorphous solids: most notably, the process of forming a glass does not release the latent heat of fusion, but forming a crystal does. A crystal structure is characterized by its unit cell, a small imaginary box containing one or more atoms in a specific spatial arrangement; the unit cells are stacked in three-dimensional space to form the crystal. The symmetry of a crystal is constrained by the requirement that the unit cells stack with no gaps. There are 219 possible crystal symmetries, called crystallographic space groups; these are grouped into 7 crystal systems, such as hexagonal crystal system. Crystals are recognized by their shape, consisting of flat faces with sharp angles.
These shape characteristics are not necessary for a crystal—a crystal is scientifically defined by its microscopic atomic arrangement, not its macroscopic shape—but the characteristic macroscopic shape is present and easy to see. Euhedral crystals are those with well-formed flat faces. Anhedral crystals do not because the crystal is one grain in a polycrystalline solid; the flat faces of a euhedral crystal are oriented in a specific way relative to the underlying atomic arrangement of the crystal: they are planes of low Miller index. This occurs; as a crystal grows, new atoms attach to the rougher and less stable parts of the surface, but less to the flat, stable surfaces. Therefore, the flat surfaces tend to grow larger and smoother, until the whole crystal surface consists of these plane surfaces. One of the oldest techniques in the science of crystallography consists of measuring the three-dimensional orientations of the faces of a crystal, using them to infer the underlying crystal symmetry.
A crystal's habit is its visible external shape. This is determined by the crystal structure, the specific crystal chemistry and bonding, the conditions under which the crystal formed. By volume and weight, the largest concentrations of crystals in the Earth are part of its solid bedrock. Crystals found in rocks range in size from a fraction of a millimetre to several centimetres across, although exceptionally large crystals are found; as of 1999, the world's largest known occurring crystal is a crystal of beryl from Malakialina, Madagascar, 18 m long and 3.5 m in diameter, weighing 380,000 kg. Some crystals have formed by magmatic and metamorphic processes, giving origin to large masses of crystalline rock; the vast majority of igneous rocks are formed from molten magma and the degree of crystallization depends on the conditions under which they solidified. Such rocks as granite, which have cooled slowly and under great pressures, have crystallized.
In crystallography, the terms crystal system, crystal family, lattice system each refer to one of several classes of space groups, point groups, or crystals. Informally, two crystals are in the same crystal system if they have similar symmetries, although there are many exceptions to this. Crystal systems, crystal families and lattice systems are similar but different, there is widespread confusion between them: in particular the trigonal crystal system is confused with the rhombohedral lattice system, the term "crystal system" is sometimes used to mean "lattice system" or "crystal family". Space groups and crystals are divided into seven crystal systems according to their point groups, into seven lattice systems according to their Bravais lattices. Five of the crystal systems are the same as five of the lattice systems, but the hexagonal and trigonal crystal systems differ from the hexagonal and rhombohedral lattice systems; the six crystal families are formed by combining the hexagonal and trigonal crystal systems into one hexagonal family, in order to eliminate this confusion.
A lattice system is a class of lattices with the same set of lattice point groups, which are subgroups of the arithmetic crystal classes. The 14 Bravais lattices are grouped into seven lattice systems: triclinic, orthorhombic, rhombohedral and cubic. In a crystal system, a set of point groups and their corresponding space groups are assigned to a lattice system. Of the 32 point groups that exist in three dimensions, most are assigned to only one lattice system, in which case both the crystal and lattice systems have the same name. However, five point groups are assigned to two lattice systems and hexagonal, because both exhibit threefold rotational symmetry; these point groups are assigned to the trigonal crystal system. In total there are seven crystal systems: triclinic, orthorhombic, trigonal and cubic. A crystal family is determined by lattices and point groups, it is formed by combining crystal systems which have space groups assigned to a common lattice system. In three dimensions, the crystal families and systems are identical, except the hexagonal and trigonal crystal systems, which are combined into one hexagonal crystal family.
In total there are six crystal families: triclinic, orthorhombic, tetragonal and cubic. Spaces with less than three dimensions have the same number of crystal systems, crystal families and lattice systems. In one-dimensional space, there is one crystal system. In 2D space, there are four crystal systems: oblique, rectangular and hexagonal; the relation between three-dimensional crystal families, crystal systems and lattice systems is shown in the following table: Note: there is no "trigonal" lattice system. To avoid confusion of terminology, the term "trigonal lattice" is not used; the 7 crystal systems consist of 32 crystal classes as shown in the following table: The point symmetry of a structure can be further described as follows. Consider the points that make up the structure, reflect them all through a single point, so that becomes; this is the'inverted structure'. If the original structure and inverted structure are identical the structure is centrosymmetric. Otherwise it is non-centrosymmetric.
Still in the non-centrosymmetric case, the inverted structure can in some cases be rotated to align with the original structure. This is a non-centrosymmetric achiral structure. If the inverted structure cannot be rotated to align with the original structure the structure is chiral or enantiomorphic and its symmetry group is enantiomorphic. A direction is called polar if its two directional senses are physically different. A symmetry direction of a crystal, polar is called a polar axis. Groups containing a polar axis are called polar. A polar crystal possesses a unique polar axis; some geometrical or physical property is different at the two ends of this axis: for example, there might develop a dielectric polarization as in pyroelectric crystals. A polar axis can occur only in non-centrosymmetric structures. There cannot be a mirror plane or twofold axis perpendicular to the polar axis, because they would make the two directions of the axis equivalent; the crystal structures of chiral biological molecules can only occur in the 65 enantiomorphic space groups.
The distribution of the 14 Bravais lattices into lattice systems and crystal families is given in the following table. In geometry and crystallography, a Bravais lattice is a category of translative symmetry groups in three directions; such symmetry groups consist of translations by vectors of the form R = n1a1 + n2a2 + n3a3,where n1, n2, n3 are integers and a1, a2, a3 are three non-coplanar vectors, called primitive vectors. These lattices are classified by the space group of the lattice itself, viewed as a collection of points, they represent the maximum symmetry. All crystalline materials must, by definition, fit into one of these arrangements. For convenience a Bravais lattice is depicted by a unit cell, a factor 1, 2, 3 or 4 larger than the primitive cell. Depending on the symmetry of a crystal or other pattern, the fundamental domain is again smaller, up to a factor 48; the Bravais lattices were studied by Moritz Ludwig Frankenheim in 1842, who found that there we
Oxygen is the chemical element with the symbol O and atomic number 8. It is a member of the chalcogen group on the periodic table, a reactive nonmetal, an oxidizing agent that forms oxides with most elements as well as with other compounds. By mass, oxygen is the third-most abundant element in the universe, after helium. At standard temperature and pressure, two atoms of the element bind to form dioxygen, a colorless and odorless diatomic gas with the formula O2. Diatomic oxygen gas constitutes 20.8% of the Earth's atmosphere. As compounds including oxides, the element makes up half of the Earth's crust. Dioxygen is used in cellular respiration and many major classes of organic molecules in living organisms contain oxygen, such as proteins, nucleic acids and fats, as do the major constituent inorganic compounds of animal shells and bone. Most of the mass of living organisms is oxygen as a component of water, the major constituent of lifeforms. Oxygen is continuously replenished in Earth's atmosphere by photosynthesis, which uses the energy of sunlight to produce oxygen from water and carbon dioxide.
Oxygen is too chemically reactive to remain a free element in air without being continuously replenished by the photosynthetic action of living organisms. Another form of oxygen, ozone absorbs ultraviolet UVB radiation and the high-altitude ozone layer helps protect the biosphere from ultraviolet radiation. However, ozone present at the surface is a byproduct of thus a pollutant. Oxygen was isolated by Michael Sendivogius before 1604, but it is believed that the element was discovered independently by Carl Wilhelm Scheele, in Uppsala, in 1773 or earlier, Joseph Priestley in Wiltshire, in 1774. Priority is given for Priestley because his work was published first. Priestley, called oxygen "dephlogisticated air", did not recognize it as a chemical element; the name oxygen was coined in 1777 by Antoine Lavoisier, who first recognized oxygen as a chemical element and characterized the role it plays in combustion. Common uses of oxygen include production of steel and textiles, brazing and cutting of steels and other metals, rocket propellant, oxygen therapy, life support systems in aircraft, submarines and diving.
One of the first known experiments on the relationship between combustion and air was conducted by the 2nd century BCE Greek writer on mechanics, Philo of Byzantium. In his work Pneumatica, Philo observed that inverting a vessel over a burning candle and surrounding the vessel's neck with water resulted in some water rising into the neck. Philo incorrectly surmised that parts of the air in the vessel were converted into the classical element fire and thus were able to escape through pores in the glass. Many centuries Leonardo da Vinci built on Philo's work by observing that a portion of air is consumed during combustion and respiration. In the late 17th century, Robert Boyle proved. English chemist John Mayow refined this work by showing that fire requires only a part of air that he called spiritus nitroaereus. In one experiment, he found that placing either a mouse or a lit candle in a closed container over water caused the water to rise and replace one-fourteenth of the air's volume before extinguishing the subjects.
From this he surmised that nitroaereus is consumed in both combustion. Mayow observed that antimony increased in weight when heated, inferred that the nitroaereus must have combined with it, he thought that the lungs separate nitroaereus from air and pass it into the blood and that animal heat and muscle movement result from the reaction of nitroaereus with certain substances in the body. Accounts of these and other experiments and ideas were published in 1668 in his work Tractatus duo in the tract "De respiratione". Robert Hooke, Ole Borch, Mikhail Lomonosov, Pierre Bayen all produced oxygen in experiments in the 17th and the 18th century but none of them recognized it as a chemical element; this may have been in part due to the prevalence of the philosophy of combustion and corrosion called the phlogiston theory, the favored explanation of those processes. Established in 1667 by the German alchemist J. J. Becher, modified by the chemist Georg Ernst Stahl by 1731, phlogiston theory stated that all combustible materials were made of two parts.
One part, called phlogiston, was given off when the substance containing it was burned, while the dephlogisticated part was thought to be its true form, or calx. Combustible materials that leave little residue, such as wood or coal, were thought to be made of phlogiston. Air did not play a role in phlogiston theory, nor were any initial quantitative experiments conducted to test the idea. Polish alchemist and physician Michael Sendivogius in his work De Lapide Philosophorum Tractatus duodecim e naturae fonte et manuali experientia depromti described a substance contained in air, referring to it as'cibus vitae', this substance is identical with oxygen. Sendivogius, during his experiments performed between 1598 and 1604, properly recognized that the substance is equivalent to the gaseous byproduct released by the thermal decomposition of potassium nitrate. In Bugaj’s view, the isolation of oxygen and the proper association of the substance to that part of air, required for life, lends sufficient weight to the discovery of oxygen by Sendivogius.
Fluorescence is the emission of light by a substance that has absorbed light or other electromagnetic radiation. It is a form of luminescence. In most cases, the emitted light has a longer wavelength, therefore lower energy, than the absorbed radiation; the most striking example of fluorescence occurs when the absorbed radiation is in the ultraviolet region of the spectrum, thus invisible to the human eye, while the emitted light is in the visible region, which gives the fluorescent substance a distinct color that can be seen only when exposed to UV light. Fluorescent materials cease to glow nearly when the radiation source stops, unlike phosphorescent materials, which continue to emit light for some time after. Fluorescence has many practical applications, including mineralogy, medicine, chemical sensors, fluorescent labelling, biological detectors, cosmic-ray detection, most fluorescent lamps. Fluorescence occurs in nature in some minerals and in various biological states in many branches of the animal kingdom.
An early observation of fluorescence was described in 1560 by Bernardino de Sahagún and in 1565 by Nicolás Monardes in the infusion known as lignum nephriticum. It was derived from the wood of Pterocarpus indicus and Eysenhardtia polystachya; the chemical compound responsible for this fluorescence is matlaline, the oxidation product of one of the flavonoids found in this wood. In 1819, Edward D. Clarke and in 1822 René Just Haüy described fluorescence in fluorites, Sir David Brewster described the phenomenon for chlorophyll in 1833 and Sir John Herschel did the same for quinine in 1845. In his 1852 paper on the "Refrangibility" of light, George Gabriel Stokes described the ability of fluorspar and uranium glass to change invisible light beyond the violet end of the visible spectrum into blue light, he named this phenomenon fluorescence: "I am inclined to coin a word, call the appearance fluorescence, from fluor-spar, as the analogous term opalescence is derived from the name of a mineral." The name was derived from the mineral fluorite, some examples of which contain traces of divalent europium, which serves as the fluorescent activator to emit blue light.
In a key experiment he used a prism to isolate ultraviolet radiation from sunlight and observed blue light emitted by an ethanol solution of quinine exposed by it. Fluorescence occurs when an orbital electron of a molecule, atom, or nanostructure, relaxes to its ground state by emitting a photon from an excited singlet state: Excitation: S 0 + h ν e x → S 1 Fluorescence: S 1 → S 0 + h ν e m + h e a t Here h ν is a generic term for photon energy with h = Planck's constant and ν = frequency of light; the specific frequencies of exciting and emitted lights are depended on the particular system. S0 is called the ground state of the fluorophore, S1 is its first excited singlet state. A molecule in S1 can relax by various competing pathways, it can undergo non-radiative relaxation in which the excitation energy is dissipated as heat to the solvent. Excited organic molecules can relax via conversion to a triplet state, which may subsequently relax via phosphorescence, or by a secondary non-radiative relaxation step.
Relaxation from S1 can occur through interaction with a second molecule through fluorescence quenching. Molecular oxygen is an efficient quencher of fluorescence just because of its unusual triplet ground state. In most cases, the emitted light has a longer wavelength, therefore lower energy, than the absorbed radiation. However, when the absorbed electromagnetic radiation is intense, it is possible for one electron to absorb two photons; the emitted radiation may be of the same wavelength as the absorbed radiation, termed "resonance fluorescence". Molecules that are excited through light absorption or via a different process can transfer energy to a second'sensitized' molecule, converted to its excited state and can fluoresce; the fluorescence quantum yield gives the efficiency of the fluorescence process. It is defined as the ratio of the number of photons emitted to the number of photons absorbed. Φ = Number of photons emitted Number of photons absorbed The maximum possible fluorescence quantum yield is 1.0.
Compounds with quantum yields of 0.10 are still considered quite fluorescent. Another way to define the quantum yield of fluorescence is by the rate of excited state decay: Φ = k f ∑ i k i where k f is the rate constant of spontaneous emission of radiation and ∑ i k i is the sum of all rates of
A mineral is, broadly speaking, a solid chemical compound that occurs in pure form. A rock may consist of a single mineral, or may be an aggregate of two or more different minerals, spacially segregated into distinct phases. Compounds that occur only in living beings are excluded, but some minerals are biogenic and/or are organic compounds in the sense of chemistry. Moreover, living beings synthesize inorganic minerals that occur in rocks. In geology and mineralogy, the term "mineral" is reserved for mineral species: crystalline compounds with a well-defined chemical composition and a specific crystal structure. Minerals without a definite crystalline structure, such as opal or obsidian, are more properly called mineraloids. If a chemical compound may occur with different crystal structures, each structure is considered different mineral species. Thus, for example and stishovite are two different minerals consisting of the same compound, silicon dioxide; the International Mineralogical Association is the world's premier standard body for the definition and nomenclature of mineral species.
As of November 2018, the IMA recognizes 5,413 official mineral species. Out of more than 5,500 proposed or traditional ones; the chemical composition of a named mineral species may vary somewhat by the inclusion of small amounts of impurities. Specific varieties of a species sometimes have official names of their own. For example, amethyst is a purple variety of the mineral species quartz; some mineral species can have variable proportions of two or more chemical elements that occupy equivalent positions in the mineral's structure. Sometimes a mineral with variable composition is split into separate species, more or less arbitrarily, forming a mineral group. Besides the essential chemical composition and crystal structure, the description of a mineral species includes its common physical properties such as habit, lustre, colour, tenacity, fracture, specific gravity, fluorescence, radioactivity, as well as its taste or smell and its reaction to acid. Minerals are classified by key chemical constituents.
Silicate minerals comprise 90% of the Earth's crust. Other important mineral groups include the native elements, oxides, carbonates and phosphates. One definition of a mineral encompasses the following criteria: Formed by a natural process. Stable or metastable at room temperature. In the simplest sense, this means. Classical examples of exceptions to this rule include native mercury, which crystallizes at −39 °C, water ice, solid only below 0 °C. Modern advances have included extensive study of liquid crystals, which extensively involve mineralogy. Represented by a chemical formula. Minerals are chemical compounds, as such they can be described by fixed or a variable formula. Many mineral groups and species are composed of a solid solution. For example, the olivine group is described by the variable formula 2SiO4, a solid solution of two end-member species, magnesium-rich forsterite and iron-rich fayalite, which are described by a fixed chemical formula. Mineral species themselves could have a variable composition, such as the sulfide mackinawite, 9S8, a ferrous sulfide, but has a significant nickel impurity, reflected in its formula.
Ordered atomic arrangement. This means crystalline. An ordered atomic arrangement gives rise to a variety of macroscopic physical properties, such as crystal form and cleavage. There have been several recent proposals to classify amorphous substances as minerals; the formal definition of a mineral approved by the IMA in 1995: "A mineral is an element or chemical compound, crystalline and, formed as a result of geological processes." Abiogenic. Biogenic substances are explicitly excluded by the IMA: "Biogenic substances are chemical compounds produced by biological processes without a geological component and are not regarded as minerals. However, if geological processes were involved in the genesis of the compound the product can be accepted as a mineral."The first three general characteristics are less debated than the last two. Mineral classification schemes and their definitions are evolving to match recent advances in mineral science. Recent changes have included the addition of an organic class, in both the new Dana and the Strunz classification schemes.
The organic class includes a rare group of minerals with hydrocarbons. The IMA Commission on New Minerals and Mineral Names adopted in 2009 a hierarchical scheme for the naming and classification of mineral groups and group names and established seven commissions and four working groups to review and classify minerals into an official listing of their published names. According to these new r
In optics, the refractive index or index of refraction of a material is a dimensionless number that describes how fast light propagates through the material. It is defined as n = c v, where c is the speed of light in vacuum and v is the phase velocity of light in the medium. For example, the refractive index of water is 1.333, meaning that light travels 1.333 times as fast in vacuum as in water. The refractive index determines how much the path of light is bent, or refracted, when entering a material; this is described by Snell's law of refraction, n1 sinθ1 = n2 sinθ2, where θ1 and θ2 are the angles of incidence and refraction of a ray crossing the interface between two media with refractive indices n1 and n2. The refractive indices determine the amount of light, reflected when reaching the interface, as well as the critical angle for total internal reflection and Brewster's angle; the refractive index can be seen as the factor by which the speed and the wavelength of the radiation are reduced with respect to their vacuum values: the speed of light in a medium is v = c/n, the wavelength in that medium is λ = λ0/n, where λ0 is the wavelength of that light in vacuum.
This implies that vacuum has a refractive index of 1, that the frequency of the wave is not affected by the refractive index. As a result, the energy of the photon, therefore the perceived color of the refracted light to a human eye which depends on photon energy, is not affected by the refraction or the refractive index of the medium. While the refractive index affects wavelength, it depends on photon frequency and energy so the resulting difference in the bending angle causes white light to split into its constituent colors; this is called dispersion. It can be observed in prisms and rainbows, chromatic aberration in lenses. Light propagation in absorbing materials can be described using a complex-valued refractive index; the imaginary part handles the attenuation, while the real part accounts for refraction. The concept of refractive index applies within the full electromagnetic spectrum, from X-rays to radio waves, it can be applied to wave phenomena such as sound. In this case the speed of sound is used instead of that of light, a reference medium other than vacuum must be chosen.
The refractive index n of an optical medium is defined as the ratio of the speed of light in vacuum, c = 299792458 m/s, the phase velocity v of light in the medium, n = c v. The phase velocity is the speed at which the crests or the phase of the wave moves, which may be different from the group velocity, the speed at which the pulse of light or the envelope of the wave moves; the definition above is sometimes referred to as the absolute refractive index or the absolute index of refraction to distinguish it from definitions where the speed of light in other reference media than vacuum is used. Air at a standardized pressure and temperature has been common as a reference medium. Thomas Young was the person who first used, invented, the name "index of refraction", in 1807. At the same time he changed this value of refractive power into a single number, instead of the traditional ratio of two numbers; the ratio had the disadvantage of different appearances. Newton, who called it the "proportion of the sines of incidence and refraction", wrote it as a ratio of two numbers, like "529 to 396".
Hauksbee, who called it the "ratio of refraction", wrote it as a ratio with a fixed numerator, like "10000 to 7451.9". Hutton wrote it as a ratio with a fixed denominator, like 1.3358 to 1. Young did not use a symbol for the index of refraction, in 1807. In the next years, others started using different symbols: n, m, µ; the symbol n prevailed. For visible light most transparent media have refractive indices between 1 and 2. A few examples are given in the adjacent table; these values are measured at the yellow doublet D-line of sodium, with a wavelength of 589 nanometers, as is conventionally done. Gases at atmospheric pressure have refractive indices close to 1 because of their low density. All solids and liquids have refractive indices above 1.3, with aerogel as the clear exception. Aerogel is a low density solid that can be produced with refractive index in the range from 1.002 to 1.265. Moissanite lies at the other end of the range with a refractive index as high as 2.65. Most plastics have refractive indices in the range from 1.3 to 1.7, but some high-refractive-index polymers can have values as high as 1.76.
For infrared light refractive indices can be higher. Germanium is transparent in the wavelength region from 2 to 14 µm and has a refractive index of about 4. A type of new materials, called topological insulator, was found holding higher refractive index of up to 6 in near to mid infrared frequency range. Moreover, topological insulator material are transparent; these excellent properties make them a type of significant materials for infrared optics. According to the theory of relativity, no information can travel faster than the speed of light in vacuum, but this does not mean that the refractive index cannot be lower than 1; the refractive index measures the phase velocity of light. The phase velocity is the speed at which the crests of the wave move and can be faster than the speed of light in vacuum, thereby give a refractive index below 1; this can occur close to resonance frequencies, for absorbing media, in plasmas, for X-rays. In the X-ray regime the refractive indices are