Light refraction


Acrylic Prints have unique optical properties because of the underlying physics of visible light traveling through the acrylic layer.

A property of visible light (or white light) is that the light waves are slightly bent as the light passes from one medium (air) to another medium (in the above example; water). This bending of the light is called light refraction.

Light refraction has two impacts on the observed image:

1) Because of the bent light, the observed object appears slightly magnified, which gives the image added clarity.

Light refraction is the underlying principle of optical lens technology you would find in a camera or a microscope.

2) The bent light will also experience a slight shift in the visible light spectrum, which adds vibrancy to the observed colors (explained below the prism image).


A simplified example of what is happening with the Acrylic Print can be see above. 

Incident light (the ambient light all around us) is slightly bent as it enterers the acrylic layer. 

The altered and shortened light path continues to travel until the opaque barrier on the backside reflects the light back up and out the acrylic layer.

The light is bent once again and travels to the eye of the observer.

Because the light is traveling a miniscule shorter distance, the image has a miniscule amount of magnification.  This is why the pencils in the water appear slightly larger.

This slight magnification provides an enhanced clarity to the image, which is subconciously perceptible to the human eye. 

It essence, the acrylic layer is behaving like a lens.

This example also points out the importance of the opaque barrier. If light is allowed to 'leak' out through the back of the print, the clarity impact is lost because the light is not reflected back to the eye.


A profile view of the Acrylic Print points out how the construction of the Acrylic Print both traps light within the acrylic layer and reflects light back to the observer.


Another consequence of bending the light is a slight shift of the visible color spectrum.

Every time the light is bent, the ultraviolet (UV) portion of the light spectrum becomes slightly more dominant and the infrared (IR) portion of the light spectrum becomes less dominant.

IR light has a longer wavelength than UV light and UV light has more energy.  When white light is bent, the UV portion of the light spectrum is more impacted.

Human eyes are especially sensitive to the UV portion of the white light spectrum and colors under a UV-dominant spectrum appear to be especially vibrant.

This is exactly why diamonds have a sense of luster. The light is bent multiple times within the diamond and the the spectrum shift becomes even more exaggerated and pronounced each time it is bent.


The net result of the these two principles of light is an Acrylic Print image that has both exceptional clarity and luminance.

It is really striking to see firsthand.