Mirrors are made of highly polished, coated glass, silica or plastic, or metals such as nickel or copper, in order to reflect light. Reflective coatings for clear surfaces include thin layers of aluminium, silver, gold, rhodium or a specialised coating like multilayer dielectrics film. A protective coating is painted over the reflective coating to seal it and prevent scratches that would affect the ability of the mirror to effectively reflect light. Mirrors come in different styles, but two common styles are flat and concave. Here are some of their uses.
Everyday Uses of Flat Mirrors
Flat mirrors are used every day to allow people to see themselves and for decorative purposes. Many wall sconces use mirrors to reflect light back out into the room in order to maximise the brightness of the sconce. Flat mirrors are also used to reflect light away from a surface, such as with mirrored sunglasses. Car mirrors let drivers easily see places behind and beside the car without turning their heads. Kaleidoscopes use flat mirrors to distort the images of the small objects inside and to create patterns.
Special Uses of Flat Mirrors
There are many societal uses for flat mirrors, including use in periscopes to permit objects to be seen from different angles and around corners. Flat mirrors are an important part of solar panels, reflecting the light of the sun to a particular point in the panel that collects it as energy and heat. Flat mirrors are also used in the eyepieces of telescopes.
Everyday Uses of Concave Mirrors
Concave mirrors, which are also used daily, enlarge objects that are brought close to their surface. For example, shaving and make-up mirrors use concave mirrors. Car headlights also use concave mirrors behind the bulbs to catch and concentrate light and disperse it outward.
Special Uses of Concave Mirrors
Concave mirrors are used in microscopes to help them see more about the world we live in; light is collected and shot through the specimen, which allows it to be seen more clearly. Telescopes also use concave mirrors, to allow us to explore the universe outside the world we live in; their concave mirrors collect light from stars and shine images onto a flat mirror, which is viewed from an eyepiece.