I am a bit confused by the history here.

We know that in early 1800's Thomas Young performed the double-slit experiment to demonstrate light interference. After wave theory of light became more accepted, presumably people would turn to explaining other phenomena like the single-slit diffraction pattern. This leads me to two questions:

  • What was the earliest discovery of single-slit diffraction or anything similar like small aperture diffraction? I've heard that Newton was the earliest to discover and write about this, but it's hard to find a concrete source verifying this.
  • What was the earliest application of wave theory to single-slit diffraction after Thomas Young's initial experiments? What was the earliest attempt to explain it with wave theory?

I know that by around the 1850's, Fresnel already devised the mathematics that can predict diffraction phenomena such as the famous Arago's spot, but no mention of light going through a single opening is ever mentioned. It seems as if there is a plot hole in the history here.

  • $\begingroup$ Accurate analysis of the double slit experiment relies on accurate analysis of the single slit result. Further, Observations of the results of waves on single slits have been available to folks near sea coasts forever. $\endgroup$ – Jon Custer Jul 26 at 14:48

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