Huygens’ principle tells us that each point on a wavefront is a source of secondary waves which add up to give the wavefront at a later time.
Huygens’ construction tells us that the new wavefront is the forward envelope of the secondary waves. When the speed of the light is independent of the direction, the secondary waves are spherical. The rays are then perpendicular to both the wavefronts and the time of travel is the same measured along any ray. This principle leads to the well-known laws of reflection and refraction.
The principle of superposition of waves applies whenever two or more sources of light illuminate the same point. When we consider the intensity of light due to these sources at the given point, there is an interference term in addition to the sum of the individual intensities.
Young’s double slit of separation d gives equally spaced fringes of angular separation λ/d. the source, mid-point of the slits, and central bright fringe lie in a straight line. An extended source will destroy the fringes if it subtends angle more than λ/d at the slits.
Natural light is unpolarised. This means the electric vector takes all possible directions in the transverse plane, rapidly and randomly, during a measurement.
A polaroid transmits only one component (parallel to a special axis). The resulting light is called linearly polarized or plane polarized. When this kind of light is viewed through a second polaroid whose axis turns through 2π, two maxima and minima of intensity are seen.
Polarized light can also be produced by reflection at a special angle (called the Brewster angle) and by scattering through π/2 in the earth’s atmosphere.