Refractive index increment (dn/dc)

A laser beam is splitted by a cubic beamsplitter into two beams with equal intensity. The two beams are reflected by two mirrors and superposed on a photodiode. Scanning one of the mirrors allows the extraction of the phase information and makes the instrument insensitive to intensity drifts of the light source. The sample cell is mounted in the path of one of the optical arms.
Variation of the optical density in the sample cell, e.g. replacing a solvent by a polymer solution leads to a phase shift which is recorded by the photodiode. Since this effect is concentration dependent, the refractive index increment dn/dc can be calculated. The accuracy of the refractive index increment determination is on the order of 10-5. The determined value is typically applied in the data analysis of static light scattering measurements (determination of the molecular weight).


Scanning Michelson Interferometer, λ = 632.8 nm


A. Becker, W. Köhler, B. Müller
A Scanning Michelson Interferometer for the Measurement of the Concentration and Temperature Derivative of the Refractive Index of Liquids
Berichte der Bunsengesellschaft für physikalische Chemie, 1995, 90, 600-608

Beate Müller Christine Rosenauer
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