Refractive index database

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Optical constants of H2O, D2O (Water, heavy water, ice)
Rowe et al. 2020: Water; n,k 0.667–10400 µm; -10 °C

Wavelength: µm

Complex refractive index (n+ik)[ i ]

n   k   LogX   LogY   eV

Derived optical constants

Conditions & Spec sheet

n_is_absolute: true
wavelength_is_vacuum: true
temperature: -10 °C


Supercooled liquid water (H2O) at -10 °C


P. M. Rowe, M. Fergoda, and S. Neshyba. Temperature-dependent optical properties of liquid water from 240 to 298 K, J. Geophys. Res. Atmos. 125, e2020JD032624 (2020) (Numerical data kindly provided by Penny Rowe)


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Water and ice, H2O

Water (H2O) is the most abundant compound on Earth's surface. It exists in various states—liquid, solid (ice), and gas (water vapor)—each having unique optical properties. In its liquid form, water is transparent over a broad range of visible wavelengths but absorbs infrared and ultraviolet light. It serves as the basis for many solvents used in optical spectroscopy. Ice, the solid state of water, also has specific optical characteristics like birefringence and is studied for its role in atmospheric optics. Water vapor, on the other hand, can act as a selective absorber of certain wavelengths and is significant in remote sensing applications. Given its ubiquity and importance in life sciences and environmental science, understanding the optical properties of water and its various states is crucial.

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