Refractive index database

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Optical constants of METALS
Lead (Pb)

Wavelength: µm

Complex refractive index (n+ik)[ i ]

n   k   LogX   LogY   eV

Derived optical constants

Conditions & Spec sheet

temperature: 293 K


293 K (19.85 °C)


A. I. Golovashkin and G. P. Motulevich. Optical properties of lead in the visible and infrared spectral ranges, Sov. Phys. JETP 26, 881-887 (1968)


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Lead, Pb

Lead (Pb) is a heavy metal that is known for its malleability, ductility, and resistance to corrosion. Historically, lead has had various applications including in batteries, pipes, cable sheathing, and as a radiation shield. In terms of optics, lead has been utilized in the manufacture of certain types of optical glasses, known as flint glasses. These glasses have high refractive indices and dispersive power. Lead-based glasses have been traditionally used in lenses and prisms to correct chromatic aberration in optical systems. However, the use of lead in consumer products has decreased significantly due to environmental and health concerns. In many regions, regulations have limited the use of lead in electronics and other products.

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Metals are integral to a wide array of optical technologies, offering unique properties like high reflectivity, excellent electrical and thermal conductivity, and robustness under various environmental conditions. Commonly used metals in optical applications include aluminum, silver, and gold, each with its distinct advantages and challenges. For example, aluminum is prized for its cost-effectiveness and high reflectivity in the UV and visible ranges, while gold is favored for its stability and performance in the infrared spectrum. Metals are often used as thin-film coatings on mirrors, beam splitters, and various optical components to enhance reflectivity, filter wavelengths, or provide protective layers. In recent years, the study of metal nanostructures has opened up the field of plasmonics, enabling extraordinary optical phenomena like sub-wavelength focusing and surface-enhanced Raman scattering. However, it's important to note that metals are generally opaque and exhibit high losses for transmitted light, limiting their use to reflective or surface-based applications. Additionally, their optical properties can be influenced by factors like surface roughness, layer thickness, and oxidation state, necessitating precise control during manufacturing and usage. Despite these challenges, metals remain a cornerstone in the design of optical systems, offering a combination of durability, performance, and versatility that is difficult to achieve with other types of materials.

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