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A very colorful interference pattern is observed when light is reflected from the top and bottom boundaries of a thin oil film.

Thin-film interference occurs when incident light waves reflected by the upper and lower boundaries of a thin film interfere with one another to form a new wave. Studying this new wave can reveal information about the surfaces from which its components reflected, including the thickness of the film or the effective refractive index of the film medium. Thin films have many commercial applications including anti-reflection coatings, mirrors, and optical filters.

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