Refractive index database

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Optical constants of Air
Börzsönyi et al. 2008: n 0.4–1.0 µm

Wavelength: µm

Complex refractive index (n+ik)[ i ]

n   k   LogX   LogY   eV

Derived optical constants

Dispersion formula [ i ]


Conditions & Spec sheet

n_is_absolute: true
wavelength_is_vacuum: true
temperature: 273 K
pressure: 100000 Pa


273 K (0 °C), 1000 mbar.


A. Börzsönyi, Z. Heiner, M. P. Kalashnikov, A. P. Kovács, and K. Osvay, Dispersion measurement of inert gases and gas mixtures at 800 nm, Appl. Opt. 47, 4856-4863 (2008)


[Expressions for n]   [CSV - comma separated]   [TXT - tab separated]   [Full database record]



Air is a mixture of gases that constitutes the Earth's atmosphere and is vital for most forms of life on our planet. It primarily consists of nitrogen (approximately 78%) and oxygen (about 21%), with small amounts of other gases such as argon, carbon dioxide, neon, helium, and methane. The exact composition can vary depending on location and environmental conditions. Air is colorless, odorless, and tasteless. From a physical perspective, air plays a crucial role in many processes such as weather patterns, the water cycle, and is also an important medium for sound transmission. In terms of its optical properties, air has a refractive index very close to 1 (approximately 1.0003 at sea level under standard conditions), which varies slightly with temperature, humidity, and pressure. This refractive index is crucial in various applications ranging from astronomical observations to the design of optical systems where light travels through the atmosphere. Understanding the properties of air, including its refractive index, is essential for disciplines such as meteorology, environmental science, aviation, and optical engineering.

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