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Young's double slit experiment is very simple to set up and simple to explain, but it is an example of both diffraction and interference, neither of which are modelled by conventional raytracing.

It is straightforward to render an approximation of the result using textures, but that would require knowing in advance what the result should be. For an arbitrary set up, where the number and arrangement of slits is not known in advance, are there any existing algorithms for modelling the effect in order to generate the correct resulting image?

If not, what would a model need to include in order to accurately produce these effects? Can ray tracing be adapted to use rays carrying additional information, or would an entirely new approach be required?

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  • $\begingroup$ "Laser light is a single frequency. White light however is light made up of the sum of different wavelengths of light." (physicsforums.com/threads/…). One thing you would have to account for is the spectral nature of light. $\endgroup$ – wip Aug 7 '15 at 4:17
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It is in fact possible to augment a ray tracer to make it capable of simulating wave effects. The paper Rendering Wave Effects with Augmented Light Field describes one way to do it. In summary, they introduce a framework called Augmented Light Field that allows them to model wave effects with a ray-based representation. In this framework, rays can carry negative radiance in addition to positive radiance; intuitively, rays carrying negative radiance can "subtract" light from surfaces that it cannot reach because of interference effects, for example.

I haven't implemented it personally, and I can't speak for its implementation complexity, but I believe it is a good starting point.

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