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The Cornus method for determining the elastic constants of a transparent

material
Objective: Using Cornus Method determine the elastic constants of a given transparent beam.
In physics lab III, last semester, you carried out Newtons rings experiments. Cornus method
is an extension of the same, further it allows one to determine the elastic constants of a
transparent beam. Experimental set-up is shown below. Instead of using a flat glass-slide, as
was done previously in the case of Newtons ring experiment, the transparent material whose
elastic constants are to be determined is used in the form of a long beam. The beam can be
bent longitudinally by hanging equal weights to its free ends which will change the circular
shape of the rings to an elliptical one. Longitudinal bending will also induce a certain (but
relatively very small) amount of lateral bending, i.e., small upward bending perpendicular to
the length of the beam. Let
and
Then,

is the radius of the nth circular ring in the absence of bending,

denote the minor and the minor axis, respectively, of the same ring upon bending.
,<

, (i.e., longitudinal bending will cause the rings to shrink along the length of

the beam); with a concomitant small upward bending in the lateral direction

Stretching a body produces internal forces called stress which prevents the body from tearing
apart. The ratio of stress to strain for a given material is called Youngs modulus Y, and is
essentially a measure of stiffness of the material. From the values of

and

for

various n under different values of attached weight W one can determine the elastic constants:
Youngs Modulus of the beam as explained below (In addition, one can also estimate the
Poissons ratio as shown below).

Figure 1: Experimental set-up for the Cornus method: (from left) Sodium lamp source for producing
Newtons rings, side view of the apparatus, front view of the apparatus with weights. Thin air-film between
a plano-convex lens and the Perspex beam produces circular rings due to interference. Upon attaching
weights to the free ends of the beam and its consequent bending, the circular rings change their shape to an
elliptical one.

Here is an outline of the analysis (workout the various expressions yourself):


Strain(z):
Elongation (contraction) of a plane a distance above z above (below) the neutral plane (see
fig. 3) is given by:
(z) = z/R1

(1)

Stress (z):
Youngs modulus (Y) = Stress/Strain = /
i.e., (z) = Y.z/R1

(2)

The bending moment is therefore given by:


(3)

(4)

Figure 4: Cross-section of a bent beam. Broken line indicates neutral plane. Please see also Figure 6.

Figure 2: Side view(s) of the beam whose elastic constants have to be determined in the unloaded condition

Under equilibrium, the internal bending moment (eq. 4) must be balanced by the moment due
to weight m1g attached to its ends (eq. 5),
Mr = m1g.L

(5)

Combining (4) and (5) gives:


(6)

*Thus, if we can determine R1 from our experimental set-up, other quantities being known,
the Youngs modulus of the beam can be calculated. But before that we should first calculate
R0 (the radius of curvature of the plano-convex lens used).

Figure 3: Bending of a beam under a weight W = m1g each attached to its ends. Mr is the bending moment (=
m1g.L). Lower panel shows an expanded view of the region over which the Newton rings form (region enclosed in a
dotted circle in the upper panel). Due to bending, the upper half (i.e., half above the neutral plane) of the beam will
undergo expansion while the lower half (below the neutral plane will undergo compression resulting in stress
represented by arrows (section ab of the beam becomes ab upon bending). The stress generated is indicated by
arrows. A bent beam over a small region (region over which the Newton rings form) can be considered as an arc of a
circle of radius R1.

I.

Determination of R0 (radius of curvature of the plano-convex lens)


It is simple to Show that:
(7)
Where dn is the diameter of the nth dark ring.
Now, if you plot of dn2 as a function of n, as you did in the IIIrd semester lab, it should be
a straight line of slope .R0/4, which gives R0.

Figure5: Newton rings with and without bending shown, respectively, in the left and right panel. Note that
bending is accompanied by change in shape of the rings from circular to elliptical. The diameter of the nth
dark ring decreases greatly along the beam length and increases slightly perpendicular to the beam length in
accordance with change in thickness of the air film sandwiched between the beam and the convex surface of
the plano-convex lens (i.e.,
).

II.

Determination of R1
Using the same geometrical reasoning as is used in deriving eq. (7). It can be shown that R1
is given by:
(8)
By plotting (as done in part I) you can obtain R1 from the slope of straight line, which leads to
determination of Y. So, far we did not consider the small but finite lateral bending. When a
beam is made to bend along its length (longitudinal bending), it also undergoes a small lateral
bending (see, figure 6), resulting in a lateral strain. That is the reason why in figure 5 major
axis (

) of ellipse is slightly greater than the radius

of the corresponding circular ring.

The measure of this tendency is called Poissons ratio (), given by:
= lateral strain/longitudinal strain. With the help of eq. 1: = R1/R2. Typically R2 is much
smaller than R1.

(9)

Figure. 6: Longitudinal bending (R1) of a bean resulting in small lateral bending (R2)

III.

Determination of R2
Show that:
(10)
By plotting (as done in part I and II) you can obtain R2 from the slope of straight line, which
leads to the experimental determination of Poissons ratio.

For comments and suggestions: please contact: surjeet.singh@iiserpune.ac.in


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