Introduction: Optical Water Prism

This is an optical prism made of acrylic glass and filled with water.

Despite it's far to be a perfect prism, you can use it for personal or classroom basic optical experiments.

As it is filled with water, its refractive index is of about 1.33.

If it was entirely made of glass or acrylic glass, its refractive index would be about 1.5.

Actually, in this prism, four refractions occurs :
1 - air (1.0) to glass (1.5)
2 - glass (1.5) to water (1.33)
3 - water (1.33) to glass (1.5)
4 - glass (1.5) to air (1.0)

Step 1: What Do You Need ?

- a board of acrylic glass
- tools required to cut acrylic glass
- transparent adhesive tape (scotch-tape)
- something to glue acrylic glass
- a tool to drill acrylic glass
- a rubber stopper (or anything that will do the job)
- a funnel ( see here if required : https://www.instructables.com/id/Improvised-Tiny-Funnel/ )

Note :
- It is, of course, possible to use real glass instead of acrylic glass. Though, it would be difficult to drill it.

Step 2: Three Rectangles ...

- Cut three rectangles of the same size.

Mine are squares of 9 by 9 centimeters, and I used a manual saw.
If you use an electric saw, be careful : acrylic glass may melt because of the friction.
Of course, it must be possible to use classical glass cutting techniques.

- Chain your rectangles with transparent adhesive tape.
And build-up your prism.

The adhesive tape should be inside, as you're supposed to glue the external edges.

- Glue the edges.

Be careful or you'll get leaks !

- And let it dry.

Once dry, it is possible to leave adhesive tape inside the prism. It does not really matter as long as it is transparent and don't cover too much of the surface.

Step 3: Two Triangles ...

- Cut the two triangles that will cap your prism.

- Drill a hole into one of the two triangles.

Actually, it is possible to drill a hole in both triangles. This would help to easily flush the prism if required.
Make the hole near one of the points. This will help to easily evacuate an eventual bubble of air.

- Glue them on each side of your prism.

- Let it dry.

Step 4: Fill It ...

- Fill it slowly with water.

I recommend not to fill it directly under the faucet (water tap). If you don't keep it dry, you may find difficult to detect eventual leaks.
You could use a funnel. If you don't have one, you could improvise one like I did.
It is also recommended to fill it with water that does not contains dissolved air (more about that in step #5).

- Plug the rubber stopper into the hole.

Try not to create a big bubble of air when doing so.

- Dry it if required, and abandon it on a dry table for few minutes to be sure there is no leaks.

In case of eventual leaks, try to fill them with glue ... Empty your prism if required ...

Step 5: Eventually ...

Eventually, lots of tiny bubbles will appears against the inner surfaces of your prism.

They appears because of the dissolved air into the water. Patrick Pending recommend to let the water sit overnight before filling the prism with.
According to the " Make crystal clear ice ! " it is possible to get rid of the air contained into the water by boiling and letting it cooling several times.

Though, if you don't want to bother boiling water etc, I found it's possible to get rid of most bubbles (once they appeared) by shaking the prism. All the tiny bubbles will join to form a big bubble that you'll eventually evacuate through the rubber stopper.

Step 6: Congratulations !

Voila ... It's ready for use.

Later, I will make an instructable about how to decompose light with this prism.
The pictures are ready, but it's time to sleep for me now ... =o)

Comments

author
mollster77 made it! (author)2008-04-28

could i make this with window sheet glass? what is acrylic glass? where can i find it?

author
chooseausername made it! (author)chooseausername2008-04-28

If you can cut (and drill) window glass, there is not problem at all I think.

Acrylic glass has various names. In my country, we generally call it Plexiglass. It's a fake glass made of plastic.

Instead of glass or plexiglass, you could make your prism with transparent CD cases if you want.

author
bedbugg2 made it! (author)2007-12-20

i want to make one!

author
chooseausername made it! (author)chooseausername2007-12-20

Me too I want to make one !! =o)

author
bedbugg2 made it! (author)bedbugg22007-12-20

oh man i could just imagine combining this with that dudes tesla cutter to make a whirlpool inside it!

author
chooseausername made it! (author)chooseausername2007-12-20

And what about adding a fish too ?? =o)

author
TKH made it! (author)2007-11-14

Nice instructable! You could also think of filling this prism with something other than water. If you used glycerol (aka glycerin), for example, there would be little change in the index of refraction at the liquid-acrylic interface (I think the index of refraction is about 1.49 for acrylic and 1.47 for glycerol) -- one could effectively replace your 'four refractions' with two. Of course glycerol is so viscous that it might take a week to fill up the prism through a funnel that small ... :)

author
chooseausername made it! (author)chooseausername2007-12-20

Thanks. =o)
Actually, I was thinking about filling it with colored water, oil, transparent shampoo etc, for various experimental purpose, but I'll wait to make some others for that ... (that could be difficult to clean).

author
power made it! (author)2007-10-21

cool!!!

author
C-h-a-v-e-z made it! (author)2007-10-14

dude, this is seriously stupid. building a prism from plastic stuff and gluing them and filling it with water.... couldn't you just find some old binoculars and salvaging the prisms from them?

author
Patrick Pending made it! (author)Patrick Pending2007-10-15

This is by no means a perfect prism, mainly due to the differing refractive index of water and acrylic. However, this technique would allow you to build large prisms that would otherwise be prohibitively expensive to buy. So as an instructable I think it has real merit. Pat. Pending

author
Spider made it! (author)Spider2007-10-15

This is not stupid by any means, in fact it was one of the principal tools that Johann Wolfgang von Goethe (1749-1832) used to demonstrate his theories on the mechanics of color, human vision and the way our brains process that information in his book, Goethe's Color Theory (1810). If you can find the book, it is totally worth reading, especially if you have a water prism at your disposal because most of the book requires a prism for the demonstrations of the theories included. Great instructable!

author
C-h-a-v-e-z made it! (author)C-h-a-v-e-z2007-10-15

so we conclude it is a great instructable if we were living in 1810. "chooseausername" idea is only short by about two hundred years. Great Job

author
ARVash made it! (author)ARVash2007-10-17

Way to show how uninformed you are lol. We still breathe air.. :O How ANTIQUATED, WE NEED TO RE RE REINVENT THE WHEEL. This is a good instructable; the internet didn't exist in 1810. The prisms in binoculars are tiny; and this is the cheapest way I know to make a pretty large prism.

author
chooseausername made it! (author)chooseausername2007-10-15

dude, this is seriously stupid. building a prism from plastic stuff and gluing them and filling it with water.... couldn't you just find some old binoculars and salvaging the prisms from them?

Sure. You must be right Mister. Everyone has an old binocular at disposal ...

And every binoculars can be took apart without damaging the water proof rubber skin ...

And in case the binocular get damaged, it does not matter, because everyone has several binoculars at disposal. And if they don't, they still can buy a new one for 20 euros ...

A new cheap binocular, here, cost 20 euros.
A board of acrylic-glass, here, cost 5 euros.

The good choice is obvious ... I wonder why I'm so seriously stupid sometimes ;-)

author
C-h-a-v-e-z made it! (author)C-h-a-v-e-z2007-10-15

you can buy used binoculars for a lot less than 20 euros. look ebay or something. i did not tell you to buy new ones. in addition, one binocular have 4 prisms inside

author
chooseausername made it! (author)chooseausername2007-10-16

(I don't know where you comment is gone, but here is my reply).

you know that getting a prism from the a binocular is the way to go, plus you will get free lenses too.

I know that getting prism from a binocular is the way to go if :
- I have old binocular at disposal or if I can wait for a week for it to be shipped
- I need tiny prisms

but you are stubborn and don't want to admit defeat,

What I don't admit, it is your arrogance. Arrogance is supposed to be my specialty.

so go ahead and buy those plastic sheets and show us your skills in making giant ass prisms,

The purpose of this site is to show and teach how to make things. Don't you understand that ?
I needed to make a big prism, I made one, and I show how I did.
Now, if someone need a "giant ass prisms", this person know it's possible to make water prism.

as if somebody told you that the bigger the prism, the more easier it is to see each photon of light. you are not making a microscope you know.

I have to admit that with your telepathic abilities (as you seems to read into my mind), you must be superior to me and to the rest of the world Master Chavez. Would you like I lick your feet to show you how dutiful I am and how superior you are ? =o)

author
Kiteman made it! (author)Kiteman2007-10-15

If I wanted to demonstrate refraction or spectral dispersion to a large group, I would use a piece of equipment just like this.

If I wanted my pupils to work with prisms in small groups, I would issue the optical prisms that we bought for less than two pounds each.

If I felt like smashing up two-five hundred pounds worth of binoculars to get a class set of prisms, that would be stupid.

author
C-h-a-v-e-z made it! (author)2007-10-15

you know that getting a prism from a binocular is the way to go, plus you will get freebie lenses too. but you are stubborn and don't want to admit defeat, so go ahead and buy those plastic sheets and show us your skills in making giant ass prisms, as if somebody told you that the bigger the prism, the more easier it is to see each photon of light. you are not making a microscope you know.

author
myric made it! (author)2007-10-15

Another way to cheaply separate light into bands is with a diffraction grating. A diffraction grating is much cheaper even than a prism and everyone owns a couple dozen. Pull out a CD or DVD and shine a flashlight on it. The light reflects at an angle to the incident beam and the angle depends on the color of the light. You have an instant rainbow with only a flashlight $1.00 and a $0.30 CD.

author
chooseausername made it! (author)chooseausername2007-10-15

Yes, there is an instructable from an other member showing this technique :
https://www.instructables.com/id/Naff-Movie-into-_DVD-Spectra_/

author
gmoon made it! (author)2007-10-14

For an experiment, this is rather cool....

You refer to 'refractions' twice, but they are actually reflections. Prisms and other transparent objects exhibit total internal reflection when light reaches a certain angle, relative to a surface. This phenomenon is why fibre optics work...

Refraction is the bending (changing direction, actually) of light, which your nice spectrum illustrates (different wavelengths 'bend' at different angles.)

author
Kiteman made it! (author)Kiteman2007-10-15

No, he's right - If you're using this in the classic "Pink Floyd Album cover" set-up, then the light will be refracted four times, once at each surface of the acrylic sheets.

author
chooseausername made it! (author)chooseausername2007-10-15

@Kiteman : Actually, Gmoon was not talking about the text in the intro. He was talking about the text into the first picture of the intro. The picture shows a "reflection", and I wrote "refraction". That's what he pointed out, and I corrected it ;-)

author
gmoon made it! (author)gmoon2007-10-15

Refraction is the bending (changing direction, actually) of light, which your nice spectrum illustrates (different wavelengths 'bend' at different angles.)

As for the reflections, that's total internal reflectivity, like the prisms in binoculars. The light is bouncing off the refractive surface, not passing through. Some refraction is also taking place (light passing in and out of the prism), of course, but the entry and exit angles are complementary so they cancel any 'separation' fx.

author
gmoon made it! (author)gmoon2007-10-15

Actually, not quite true. The internal reflectivity is distortion-free when the observer viewpoint is perpendicular to the exit face.

author
chooseausername made it! (author)chooseausername2007-10-15

Thanks, for pointing it out this stupid mistake =o)
I'm going to update the instructable.

author
Swartzkip made it! (author)2007-10-15

f you boil the water, than cool and boil again and than cool and fill the prism no bubbles! (got that from the clear ice instructable)

author
chooseausername made it! (author)chooseausername2007-10-15

Thanks for the tip :-) I will try it, and update the instructable accordingly.

author
Kiteman made it! (author)Kiteman2007-10-15

Hey, you could even try and make an ice prism!

author
Swartzkip made it! (author)Swartzkip2007-10-15

cool :D, add some clear ice lensen and build a icecold binoculair! if only i had a decent freezer...

author
Patrick Pending made it! (author)2007-10-14

The bubbles are simply dissolved air in the water. You could let the water sit overnight before filling, which would help minimise the bubbles. Cheers, Pat. Pending

author
CameronSS made it! (author)CameronSS2007-10-14

Couldn't you also boil it first? Or would that really help at all?

author
Patrick Pending made it! (author)Patrick Pending2007-10-15

I think it probably would help. Pat. Pending

author
chooseausername made it! (author)chooseausername2007-10-15

Thanks, I will try that and update the instructable.

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