A New Type of Secondary Radiation


C. V. Raman and K. S. Krishnan, Nature, 121(3048), 501, March 31, 1928

If we assume that the X-ray scattering of the 'unmodified' type observed by Prof. Compton corresponds to the normal or average state of the atoms and molecules, while the 'modified' scattering of altered wave-length corresponds to their fluctuations from that state, it would follow that we should expect also in the case of ordinary light two types of scattering, one determined by the normal optical properties of the atoms or molecules, and another representing the effect of their fluctuations from their normal state. It accordingly becomes necessary to test whether this is actually the case. The experiments we have made have confirmed this anticipation, and shown that in every case in which light is scattered by the molecules in dust-free liquids or gases, the diffuse radiation of the ordinary kind, having the same wave-length as the incident beam, is accompanied by a modified scattered radiation of degraded frequency.

The new type of light scattering discovered by us naturally requires very powerful illumination for its observation. In our experiments, a beam of sunlight was converged successively by a telescope objective of 18 cm. aperture and 230 cm. focal length, and by a second lens was placed the scattering material, which is either a liquid (carefully purified by repeated distillation in vacuo) or its dust-free vapour. To detect the presence of a modified scattered radiation, the method of complementary light-filters was used. A blue-violet filter, when coupled with a yellow-green filter and placed in the incident light, completely extinguished the track of the light through the liquid or vapour. The reappearance of the track when the yellow filter is transferred to a place between it and the observer's eye is proof of the existence of a modified scattered radiation. Spectroscopic confirmation is also available.

Some sixty different common liquids have been examined in this way, and every one of them showed the effect in greater or less degree. That the effect is a true scattering, and secondly by its polarisation, which is in many cases quire strong and comparable with the polarisation of the ordinary scattering. The investigation is naturally much more difficult in the case of gases and vapours, owing to the excessive feebleness of the effect. Nevertheless, when the vapour is of sufficient density, for example with ether or amylene, the modified scattering is readily demonstrable.