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Schlieren Imaging



Schlieren Imaging is an optical technique which allows viewers to see physical changes in air which the human eye cannot detect. Like many other imaging techniques, Schlieren Imaging involves a few basic principles such as refraction (how light acts/bends as it changes medium), reflection (the act of light bouncing off of a reflective object such as a mirror), refractive index (the amount light bends as it passes into a certain material) and density (which affects refractive index). A Schlieren Imaging System allows one to see the different densities that light rays from a source pass through: even if not visible to the human eye. One of the most common ways of setting up a Schlieren Imaging System is the “z-style” (as shown in the attached diagram). This includes a single concave mirror, a light source, a knife edge or color filter, and a camera. As shown in the diagram, the light shines onto the mirror, which reflects and focuses the light to a single point onto the knife edge. The knife edge is used to block out light bent at a specific angle due to a density change in its path. This blocking of light creates a dark spot in the image or field of view which gives the image contrast and clarity, alowing you to be able to see the pocket of air of different density.

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