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Difference Between Reflection And Refraction

Whenever anyone hears of the terms reflection and refraction , one is confused as both the terms sounds almost similar. But, actually, there is an enormous difference between the two. In the following paragraphs, we ll be trying to share in detail on both refraction and reflection  as well as difference between the two.

Reflection – Reflection is the phenomenon in which light reflects back after striking a smooth surface.

In reflection , the ray which strikes the smooth surface is called the incident ray . The ray which reflects back from smooth surface is called reflected ray. The angle in between the incident ray and the normal ray is called angle of incidence and the angle between the normal ray and reflected ray is called the angle of reflection.

Refraction – Refraction is the process in which, when the incidence ray strikes the surface in some medium and it gets diverted or bent while passing through another medium .

The ray generally bends towards the normal ray while travelling to rarer medium to a denser medium and it bends away from normal ray while travelling to denser to rarer medium.

Figure 1:  Diagram demonstrating Reflection and Refraction.

Differences between Reflection and Refraction:

    S. No.




Reflection is the bouncing back of light when it strikes the smooth surface.


Refraction is the bending of light when it travels from one medium to another .



The phenomenon of reflection generally occurs in a mirror.

The phenomenon of reflection generally occurs in Lenses.


Reflection is the phenomenon which sends back the light in the same medium.

The medium doesn’t change.

Refraction is the phenomenon which sends back the light in the different  medium.

The medium changes.


According to law of reflection , the angle of incidence is equal to angle of reflection.

According to law of refraction of light, the ratio of sine of angle of incidence and sine of angle of refraction is constant









There are generally two types of reflections-
1. Regular reflection ( Specular reflection)
2. Diffused reflection.

There is single types of refraction .