Breaking Total Internal Reflection (TIR): Is it against the law?

Guest Contributor: Dave Jacobsen, Lambda Research Corporation

The quick answer is, of course not. The first question really should be, what is TIR. TIR stands for Total Internal Reflection, and is the guiding principle of fiber optics, light guides, and light pipes for use in applications such as automotive interior lighting, computer displays, consumer electronics, aviation displays, and many other areas. TIR means that light rays that meet certain conditions are reflected inside of a light guide with no loss in flux or power. This is great when transmitting light from one point to another where little or no loss is important. There are other cases though, such as displays and indicators, where it is desirable to get the light out of the light guide at some user defined position. This is where breaking TIR is appropriate.

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