List of refractive indices

Many materials have a well-characterized refractive index, but these indexes depend strongly upon the frequency of light. Standard refractive index measurements are taken at the "yellow doublet" sodium D line, with a wavelength of 589 nanometers.

There are also weaker dependencies on temperature, pressure/stress, etc., as well on precise material compositions (presence of dopants, etc.); for many materials and typical conditions, however, these variations are at the percent level or less. Thus, it is especially important to cite the source for an index measurement if precision is required.

In general, an index of refraction is a complex number with both a real and imaginary part, where the latter indicates the strength of absorption loss at a particular wavelengththus, the imaginary part is sometimes called the extinction coefficient . Such losses become particularly significant, for example, in metals at short (e.g. visible) wavelengths, and must be included in any description of the refractive index.


Some representative refractive indices
Materialλ (nm)nRef.
Vacuum1 (by definition)
Air at STP1.000277
Gases at 0 °C and 1 atm
Carbon dioxide589.291.001[2][3][4]
Liquids at 20 °C
Arsenic trisulfide and sulfur in methylene iodide1.9[5]
Carbon disulfide589.291.628[1]
Carbon tetrachloride589.291.461[1]
Silicone oil (nD25)589.291.393–1.403[6]
Ethanol (ethyl alcohol)589.291.361[1]
10% Glucose solution in water589.291.3477[7]
20% Glucose solution in water589.291.3635[7]
60% Glucose solution in water589.291.4394[7]
Solids at room temperature
Silicon carbide (Moissanite; 6H form)589.292.65[8]
Titanium dioxide (rutile phase)589.292.614[9][10]
Strontium titanate589.292.41[11]
Tantalum Pentoxide589.292.15[12]
Sodium chloride589.291.544[13]
Fused silica (a pure form of glass, also called fused quartz)589.291.458[1][14]
Other materials
Liquid helium1.025
Perfluorohexane (Fluorinert FC-72)1.251[15]
Water ice1.31
TFE/PDD (Teflon AF)1.315[16][17]
Polytetrafluoroethylene (Teflon)1.35–1.38[19]
Sugar solution, 25%1.3723[20]
Cornea (human)1.373/1.380/1.401[21]
Lens (human)1.386–1.406
Liver (human)9641.369[22]
Intestinal mucosa (human)9641.329-1.338[23]
Ethylene tetrafluoroethylene (ETFE)1.403[24]
Sylgard 184 (polydimethylsiloxane)1.4118[25]
Sugar solution, 50%1.4200[20]
Polylactic acid1.46[26]
Pyrex (a borosilicate glass)1.470[27]
Vegetable oil1.47[28]
Sugar solution, 75%1.4774[20]
Poly(methyl methacrylate) (PMMA)1.4893–1.4899
Halite (rock salt)1.516
Plate Glass (window glass)1.52


Crown glass (pure)1.50–1.54
Polyethylene terephthalate (PET)1.5750
Crown glass (impure)1.485–1.755
Flint glass (pure)1.60–1.62
Flint glass (impure)1.523–1.925
Boron nitride2-2.14[31]
Cubic zirconia2.15–2.18[32]
Potassium niobate (KNbO3)2.28
Zinc oxide3902.4
Cinnabar (mercury sulfide)3.02
Silicon1200 - 85003.42–3.48[33]
Gallium(III) phosphide3.5
Gallium(III) arsenide3.927
Germanium3000 - 160004.05–4.01[34]

See also


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  2. Morgan, Joseph (1953). Introduction to Geometrical and Physical Optics. McGraw-Hill Book Company, INC.
  3. Hodgman, Charles D. (1957). Handbook of Chemistry and Physics. Chemical Rubber Publishing Co.
  4. Pedrotti, Frank L.; Pedrotti, Leno M.; Pedrotti, Leno S. (2007). Introduction to Optics, Third Edition. Pearson Prentice Hall. p. 221. ISBN 978-0-13-149933-1.
  5. Meyrowitz, R, A compilation and classification of immersion media of high index of refraction, American Mineralogist 40: 398 (1955)
  6. "Silicone Fluids: Stable and Inert Media" (PDF). Gelest, Inc. 1998.
  7. Lide, David R. Lide, ed. (2001). CRC Handbook of Physics and Chemistry (82nd ed.). Cleveland, OH: The Chemical Rubber Company. ISBN 978-0-8493-0482-8.
  8. "Silicon Carbide (SiC) - Optical properties". Ioffe Institute. Retrieved 6 June 2009.
  9. Polyanskiy, Mikhail N. "Optical constants of TiO2 (Titanium dioxide)". Refractive Index Database.
  10. Shannon, Robert D.; Shannon, Ruth C.; Medenbach, Olaf; Fischer, Reinhard X. (25 October 2002). "Refractive Index and Dispersion of Fluorides and Oxides" (PDF). J. Phys. Chem. Ref. Data. 31 (4): 931–970. Bibcode:2002JPCRD..31..931S. doi:10.1063/1.1497384.
  11. Frye, Asa; French, R. H.; Bonnell, D. A. (2003). "Optical properties and electronic structure of oxidized and reduced single-crystal strontium titanate" (PDF). Zeitschrift für Metallkunde. 94 (3): 226. doi:10.3139/146.030226. Retrieved 11 July 2014.
  12. Polyanskiy, Mikhail (2018). "Optical constants of Ta2O5 (Tantalum pentoxide)". Refractive Index Database.
  13. Serway, Raymond A.; Faughn, Jerry S. (2003). College Physics, 6th Edition. Brooks/Cole. p. 692. ISBN 978-0-03-035114-3.
  14. Tan, G; Lemon, M.; Jones, D.; French, R. (2005). "Optical properties and London dispersion interaction of amorphous and crystalline {SiO2} determined by vacuum ultraviolet spectroscopy and spectroscopic ellipsometry" (PDF). Physical Review B. 72 (20): 205117. Bibcode:2005PhRvB..72t5117T. doi:10.1103/PhysRevB.72.205117. Retrieved 11 July 2014.
  15. "Fluorinert Electronic Liquid FC-72 Product Information" (PDF). Retrieved 1 May 2017.
  16. "Teflon AF". Retrieved 14 October 2010.
  17. Yang, Min K. (July 2008). "Optical properties of Teflon® {AF} amorphous fluoropolymers" (PDF). Journal of Micro/Nano Lithography. 7 (3): 033010. doi:10.1117/1.2965541. Retrieved 11 July 2014.
  18. "CYTOP Amorphous Fluoropolymer". AGCCE Chemicals Europe, Ltd. Archived from the original on 24 August 2010. Retrieved 14 October 2010.
  19. French, Roger H.; Rodriguez-Parada, J. M.; Yang, M. K.; et al. (2009). Optical properties of materials for concentrator photovoltaic systems (PDF). IEEE Photovoltaic Specialists Conference. p. 000394. doi:10.1109/PVSC.2009.5411657. ISBN 978-1-4244-2949-3. Retrieved 11 July 2014.
  20. "Manual for Sugar Solution Prism" (PDF). A/S S. Frederiksen. 3 August 2005. Retrieved 21 March 2012.
  21. Patel, S; Marshall, J; Fitzke, FW 3rd. (March–April 1995). "Refractive index of the human corneal epithelium and stroma". J Refract Surg. 11 (2): 100–105. PMID 7634138.
  22. Giannios, P; et, al (2016). "Visible to near-infrared refractive properties of freshly-excised human-liver tissues: marking hepatic malignancies". Sci. Rep. 6: 27910. Bibcode:2016NatSR...627910G. doi:10.1038/srep27910. PMC 4906272. PMID 27297034.
  23. Giannios, P; al, et (2016). "Complex refractive index of normal and malignant human colorectal tissue". J. Biophotonics. 10 (2): 303–310. doi:10.1002/jbio.201600001. PMID 27091794.
  24. Wright, S.F., Zadrazil, I. & Markides, C.N. (2017). "A review of solid–fluid selection options for optical-based measurements in single-phase liquid, two-phase liquid–liquid and multiphase solid–liquid flows". Experiments in Fluids. 58 (9): 108. Bibcode:2017ExFl...58..108W. doi:10.1007/s00348-017-2386-y.CS1 maint: uses authors parameter (link)
  25. "184 Silicone Elastomer" (PDF) (Product Information). Dow Corning. Retrieved 11 December 2012.
  26. Gonçalves, Carla M. B.; Coutinho, Joa˜o A. P.; Marrucho, Isabel M. (2010). "Optical Properties". Poly(Lactic Acid): Synthesis, Structures, Properties, Processing, and Applications; Chapter 8: Optical Properties. p. 97. doi:10.1002/9780470649848.ch8. ISBN 9780470649848.
  27. University of Liverpool. "Absolute Refractive Index". Materials Teaching Educational Resources. MATTER Project. Archived from the original on 12 October 2007. Retrieved 18 October 2007.
  28. Index Of Refraction Of Vegetable Oil, The Physics Factbook.
  29. "High temperature glass melt property database for process modeling"; Eds.: Thomas P. Seward III and Terese Vascott; The American Ceramic Society, Westerville, Ohio, 2005, ISBN 1-57498-225-7
  30. C. R. Garcia, J. Correa, D. Espalin, J. H. Barton, R. C. Rumpf, R. Wicker, V. Gonzalez, "3D Printing of Anisotropic Metamaterials," PIER Lett, Vol. 34, pp. 75-82, 2012.
  31. "Combat Boron Nitride" (PDF). Saint Gobain. Retrieved 12 June 2016.
  32. French, Roger H.; Glass, S.; Ohuchi, F.; et al. (1994). "Experimental and theoretical determination of the electronic structure and optical properties of three phases of {ZrO2}" (PDF). Physical Review B. 49 (8): 5133. Bibcode:1994PhRvB..49.5133F. doi:10.1103/PhysRevB.49.5133. Retrieved 11 July 2014.
  33. "Silicon". Retrieved 21 August 2014.
  34. "Germanium". Retrieved 21 August 2014.
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