Interactions of light

Transparent, Translucent, and Opaque

Interactions of Light (Transparent,Translucent and Opaque)

Materials like air, water, and clear glass are called transparent. When light encounters transparent materials, almost all of it passes directly through them. Glass, for example, is transparent to all visible light. The color of a transparent object depends on the color of light it transmits. If green light passes through a transparent object, the emerging light is green; similarly if red light passes through a transparent object, the emerging light is red.

Materials like frosted glass and some plastics are called translucent. When light strikes translucent materials, only some of the light passes through them. The light does not pass directly through the materials. It changes direction many times and is scattered as it passes through. Therefore, we cannot see clearly through them; objects on the other side of a translucent object appear fuzzy and unclear. Because translucent objects are semi-transparent, some ultraviolet rays can go through them. This is why a person behind a translucent object can get a sunburn on a sunny day.

Most materials are opaque. When light strikes an opaque object none of it passes through. Most of the light is either reflected by the object or absorbed and converted to heat. Materials such as wood, stone, and metals are opaque to visible light.