Ray vs Beam
A ray is a concept used in optics. Beam is a concept used in almost all fields of physics. The concepts of ray and beam play an important role in understanding such sciences. These ideas are widely used in geometrical optics, modern optics, modern physics, particle physics, electromagnetic theory and various other fields. It is vital to have a very good understanding in these concepts in order to excel in such fields. The words ray and beam may seem to mean the same thing at first glance, but these terms hold two different meanings. In this article, we are going to discuss what is ray and what is beam, definitions of beam and ray, applications of ray and beam, similarities of ray and beam, and finally the difference between rays and beam.
Ray is a concept widely used in optics. A ray is an idealized narrow beam or a column of light. This is a very useful concept in geometrical optics. In geometrical optics, almost all of the calculations are done using light rays. An ideal light ray has zero width. The ray of the light does not concern aspects such as the phase of the light. The method used to create ray diagrams of systems is known as ray tracing. Ray tracing is a very useful method when it comes to the analysis of complex optical systems. In such cases, the light field is divided into rays and ray tracing is used to estimate the behavior of light in the given system. The concept of ray is only applied to the light. A light is not considered as a wave in the ray theory of light. Therefore, wave related phenomena such as scattering, diffraction, and interference cannot be described using the ray model. There are a few special types of rays are termed based on the place it occurs. A light ray, which falls on an object, is known as the incident ray; a light ray that is reflected by an object is known as the reflected ray, and a light ray that is refracted by an object is known as refracted ray.
A beam is a narrow projection of a set of particles or waves. There are two main types of beams. Those are light (or electromagnetic) beams and particle beams. Beams are used in various fields and applications. Devices such as cathode ray tubes, particle accelerators, LASER devices use beams. Both types of beams can be considered as the same, since particles also have wave properties (and vice versa).
What is the difference between Beam and Ray?
• A beam is a thin projection of particles or waves. A ray is a hypothetical stream of light.
• A beam has a finite width, and it can be observed physically. A ray is a concept, which cannot be observed physically, and the ray has a zero width.
• Rays are only discussed under light, but beams are discussed in both waves and particles.
• Wave properties such as wavelength, amplitude, and phase are omitted when a ray is discussed. Any property of the waves or particles can be discussed in a beam.