Reflection of light class 12: definition and types

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Reflection of light

Reflection of light: The bouncing back of a ray of light after colliding with a surface in the same medium is called reflection. Light always travels in a straight line; when it falls on a surface, it bounces back like a ball.

When falling on a plane surface, due to the high speed of massless photon particles, this bouncing back is so perfect that the angle of incidence is always equal to the angle of reflection.

Types of reflection:

There are mainly two types of reflection:

  1. Regular or specular reflection
  2. Irregular or diffuse reflection

Regular or specular reflection

When a beam of parallel light rays falls on a smooth or regular surface, the beam also reflects parallel to each other. This is called regular or specular reflection.

Irregular or diffuse reflection

When a beam of parallel light rays falls on an irregular diffused surface, the reflected beam of light rays does not remain parallel to each other (see the figure below). This is called irregular reflection.


Retroreflection is a special type of reflection that occurs when light rays are returned in the direction from which they came. It happens when light encounters a surface covered with retroreflective materials, like certain road signs or safety vests. Retroreflective materials consist of tiny glass or plastic beads or prisms that have the property of reflecting light back toward its source. This type of reflection improves visibility, especially in low-light conditions, as the reflected light is directed back to the original source.

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Reflection is the bouncing back of light after colliding with a surface. It can be a regular or irregular reflection. A regular reflection also follows the laws of reflection. There are different types of reflections such as regular reflection, irregular, and retroreflection.

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