Difference Between Diffraction and Interference

The difference between diffraction and interference lies in the fact that the waves involved in this process are of different types. Interference is a property originated by waves from two different coherent sources, whereas secondary wavelets that originate from the same wave but occur from different parts of it, produce the phenomenon termed diffraction. These both sound alike, however, they are entirely different by nature. Understanding the resolving power of a telescope and microscope can be useful to get a better picture of this.

Difference between Diffraction and Interference

It is important to know the key differences between them by examining the region of minimum intensity; this region is incredibly dark in interference and it is less dark in the case of diffraction. Like these few differences, there are a few more factors that differentiate diffraction from interference. It is important to know the distinctions between one and the other. Some key differences between diffraction and interference are listed below:

Difference between Diffraction and Interference
Interference Diffraction
Interference may be defined as waves emerging from two different sources, producing different wavefronts. Diffraction, on the other hand, can be termed as secondary waves that emerge from the different parts of the same wave.
The contrast between maxima and minima is very good. The contrast between maxima and minima is poor.
The width of the fringes in interference is equal. The width of the fringes is not equal in diffraction.
The sources are referred to as interference sources if the number of sources is as few as two sources If the number of sources is more than two the sources are referred to as diffraction sources.

Thus, this is the key difference between Interference and Diffraction. For more information download the BYJU’S app today! You may also want to check out our related links:

Coherent Sources
Double Slit Experiment


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  1. is this phenomenon suitable for all types of waves?