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Publication Date


First Advisor

Doreen Weinberger

Document Type

Honors Project

Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts




Refractive index measurement, Index of refraction measurement, Jeweler's refractometer, Crystal optics, Refractometers


Precision index of refraction measurements are valuable in mineralogical and geological ap plications for the insights they offer into composition and crystal structure. Historically, these measurements have been performed in a variety of ways; current preferred methods suffer from either their inherent complexity or imprecision. Building on work by C.S. Hurbut and F.D. Bloss in particular, we are developing a method based on total internal reflection for such measure ments, offering a way for quick and simple, yet highly precise index of refraction measurements. An analysis of errors in index measurement resulting from misalignments of the instrument is presented below, in the hopes that such errors can be understood and minimized in the future, allowing us to attain the desired precision. At present, we believe our error in index measure ment is in the third decimal place, although further work is necessary to quantify it exactly. Ultimately we aim for precision in the fourth decimal place or better.


2018 Sophia TenHuisen. Access limited to the Smith College community and other researchers while on campus. Smith College community members also may access from off-campus using a Smith College log-in. Other off-campus researchers may request a copy through Interlibrary Loan for personal use.




91 pages : illustrations (some color) Includes bibliographical references (page 43)