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Prism – Definition, Elements, Prism Types, Calculations, and More

What is a Prism?

The Prism is a type of irregular polyhedra, i.e., geometric shapes with all its flat faces.

  • But what differentiates a prism from, for example, a pyramid?
  • We will learn the characteristics of prisms, the elements that form them, the types of prisms that exist, and what criteria they are classifying.
  • We will see how the area and volume of a prism calculate.
  • Remember that Polyhedra are geometric bodies whose faces are flat. All facets of a polyhedron are polygons.
  • When their faces are all the same, it is a regular polyhedron; if, on the other hand, their faces are different.
  • We face it with an irregular polyhedron, as in the case of the prism.

Elements of Prism

The parts of a prism are:

Elements of Prism

  1. Bases (B): each prism has two bases, equal and parallel.
  2. Side faces (C): the parallelograms between the two floors.
  3. Edge (A): the line segment where two faces meet (both side faces and feet).
  4. Vertex (V): the point where three or more edges intersect.
  5. Height (h): the distance between the two bases.

Types of Prisms

We can classify the prisms according to four different criteria:

  • Regular or irregular: a prism is standard if its bases are regular polygons and irregular if they are irregular polygons.
  • Straight or oblique: The prism is linear when its axis is perpendicular to the bases and oblique when the angle between the axis and the base is different from 90 °.
  • Convex or concave: it is convex if its bases are convex polygons and concave if, on the contrary, they are concave polygons.

How to calculate the area of a Prism

  • To calculate its area, you have to add the size of each of its faces.
  • If it is a straight, it can calculate the area with the following formula:
  • Area = 2 × A b + P b × h


  • A b is the area of the base
  • P b is the perimeter of the base
  • h is the height of the prism

How to calculate the volume of a prism

  • The volume of a prism is the product of base area (A b) and the height (h):
  • Volume = A b × h

Reflecting prisms

Reflecting prisms

  • In reflector prisms where scattering is not desirable, the light beam introduces.
  • So that at least one total internal reflection occurs to change the direction of propagation, the orientation of the image, or both.
  • In the previous equations, when we have calculated the minimum dispersion.
  • We realize that it is independent of the refractive index and the wavelength.
  • The reflection will occur without any color preference, and the prism is called achromatic.
  • The following figures show some of the many reflector prisms out there, which construct BSC-2 p C-1 glass.

Amici’s Prism

  • It is a truncated orthogonal prime with an added roof section on the hypotenuse side.
  • It’s most common use has the effect of splitting the image in half and swapping the portions right to left.
  • These prisms are expensive because they must keep the apical angle within approximately 3 to 4 arc seconds.
  • Otherwise, you will get a bothersome double image.
  • It is often used in a simple telescope system to correct for lens reversal.

Penta Prism

  • However, it will deflect the beam by 90º without affecting the orientation of the image.
  • Note that two of its surfaces must be silver.
  • We can you these prisms as reflectors at the ends of short-range finders.

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