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Determination of the Poissons Ratio of a Nylon String Using Diffraction of Light

Ritzy Amor Ectin1, Abegail Gavilo2 Department of Physics, University of San Carlos, Nasipit, Talamban, Cebu City
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Many different techniques have been devised for determining particle size distribution, but diffraction of light is the one that is widely used. This method can also be used for measuring the width of very fine objects. In this experiment, the diffraction of light was used to determine the change in width of a nylon string. The measured values were then used to compute for the Poissons ratio of a nylon string. The theoretical value for a nylon string ranges from 0.35 to 0.40, depending on the material that it is composed of.

1. Introduction
Most materials, when stretched, become narrower as can be observed by stretching a rubber band. This narrowing is represented by Poissons ratio which was named after Simeon Poisson and is defined as the negative strain of a stretched or compressed body divided by its longitudinal strain. Poissons ratio is an important mechanical property is one of the most common properties used to characterize elastic solids. There are many different ways in measuring particle size distribution and diffraction of light is one of the most common and used techniques. Light like sound has wave characteristics. This can be observed in the diffraction of light experiment. When light passes through an opening or around the edge of an object, it bends and produces a pattern on the illuminated area. In this experiment, the Poissons ratio of a nylon string was determined.

2. Theory
When a material is stretched with a uniaxial force, a phenomenon known as the Poisson strain causes the girth of the material to contract in the transverse direction. The magnitude of this transverse contraction is a material property indicated by its Poissons ratio,



Transverse strain of very thin objects is not measured easily since the change in the objects width is very small. The common ruler cannot assure an accurate reading for this small change. Many techniques were developed to measure small changes like this and diffraction of light is one of them. As waves pass around an obstacle or through a slit, waves spread out. The amount of diffraction depends upon the wavelength in relation to the width a of the obstacle. One of the effects of diffraction is the production of fringe patterns. A dark fringe occurs whenever (3) Rewriting Equation (3) gives (4) The plus or minus sign indicates that there are symmetrical dark fringes above and below the central maxima. The location of a minimum of order m relative to the center of the central maxima can be computed using (5) The values of are often so small that the approxiamtion can be used, equation (5) then becomes (6)

If the distance from the obstacle to the screen is x and the vertical distance of the mth dark band from the center of the pattern is ym, then , (7)

Substituting equation (7) to equation (2), (8)

3. Methodology
A laser beam was directed onto a nylon string and the pattern formed on the screen was recorded by a camera. A computer with a program was used to measure the width of the nylon string in pixels. To be able to determine the real width of the string, the camera was first calibrated to convert pixels into centimeters.

(a) (b) (c) (d)

Figure 1. Diffraction of light experimental set-up. The set-up consists of (a) a camera, (b)a screen, where the pattern will be formed, (c) an obstacle, a nylon string, and (d) a laser.

As shown in figure 1, the screen was placed far from the obstacle so that Fraunhofer diffraction will occur. The distance between the patterns formed was measured using the LabView program. This procedure was repeated while varying the length of the nylon string.

4. Data and Results

Figure 2 shows the scatter plot of the change in width against the change in length of a nylon string with a corresponding linear fit. The Poissons ratio of the nylon string was determined to be 0.470.1 using equation 8 where is equal to the slope. The results are precise but inaccurate. The approximation sin= and the estimation of the physical measurement of the distance between the two minima are factors that contributed to the inaccuracy of the experimental results. Also, the effect of the assumption that the plane of the screen was exactly parallel to the plane of the cameras aperture should be taken into account since distances between images can be misinterpreted. It is suggested that measuring devices with finer calibrations be used to obtain a more accurate and precise results. The experiment should also be done in a room with enough space to be able to get a more visible pattern of the fringes since the distance between the obstacle and the screen affects the distances between the fringes. Lastly, it is best to perform the experiment in a dark room to be able to see a clearer view of the patterns and to eliminate the unwanted effects of other lights




a (cm)




-0.0030 0.0 0.5 1.0 1.5 2.0 2.5 3.0 3.5


Figure 2. Scatter plot of a against L with a corresponding linear plot. The graph shows an inverse proportionality between the two plotted quantities.

Further experimentation and study of the determination of the Poissons ratio of a thin object using diffraction of light is highly encouraged so as to verify the validity of the procedure and results of this experiment.

5. Conclusion
The Poissons ratio of the nylon string was determined to be 0.470.1 which is 17.5% different from the theoretical value of 0.3~0.4. The difference between the experimental result and the theoretical value is primarily due to the assumptions and approximations made at the start of the experiment. From this result, it can be said that diffraction of light is a good technique in measuring Poissons ration of a thin nylon string.

6. References
1. 2. 3. 4. R. Serway, J. Faugn, C. Vuille, College Physics, 8th Ed., Belmont, CA: Books/Cole, Cengage Learning, 2008. Ferdinand P Beer, E Russell Johnston, John T DeWolf, N Siva Prasad, S Krishnamurthy, Mechanics of material(in SI units), 3rd Ed., New Delhi: Tata McGraw-Hill, 2004. M. Estivalet, P. Brisson, The Engineering of Sport 7, Volume 1, Paris, France: Springer, 2008. Young, Freedman, University Physics, 11th Ed., Pearson Education South Asia PTE Ltd., 2004.

A. Raw Data The table below shows the measured values for the length of the string and the width of the string. Table 1. Length (cm) 13.87 13.95 14.25 14.32 14.40 14.60 14.80 15.00 15.11 15.20 15.41 Width (pixels) 53 54 54 57 59 58 60 61 61 62 61

B. Error Analysis The inaccuracy of the obtained results was due to the noted approximations and assumptions. The in the error analysis below represents the uncertainty in the quantity that it is attached to.

The uncertainty in m was obtained using the program Origin 6.0. Its value was determined to be 0.00004. The uncertainty attached to the measurement of the effective length and width were 0.005cm and 0.0043cm, respectively. These uncertainties were initially recorded as it was indicated on the measuring devices that were used. By substituting these known values to the equation above, was determined have a value of 0.1.

ang wavelength kai 630-680nm.. d rba ni mao ang final jd na labreport.. la ko copi :( c abby ang naa.. (em lang nkatitle ana)..sorry