26-02-2011, 11:12 AM

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Polarization of Light: from Basics to Instruments

Part I: Different polarization states of light

• Light as an electromagnetic wave

• Mathematical and graphical descriptions of polarization

• Linear, circular, elliptical light

• Polarized, unpolarized light

Light as an electromagnetic wave

Mathematical description of the EM wave

Graphical representation of the EM wave (I)

Graphical representation of the EM wave (II)

Vertically polarized light

Polarization at 45º (I)

Polarization at 45º (II)

Circular polarization (I)

Circular polarization (II)

Circular polarization (III)

Circular polarization (IV)

Elliptical polarization

• Linear + circular polarization = elliptical polarization

Unpolarized light (natural light)

A cool Applet

Electromagnetic Wave

Part II: Stokes parameters and Mueller matr

• Stokes parameters, Stokes vector

• Stokes parameters for linear and circular polarization

• Stokes parameters and polarization P

• Mueller matrices, Mueller calculus

• Jones formalism

Stokes parameters

A tiny itsy-bitsy little bit of history

• 1669: Bartholinus discovers double refraction in calcite

• 17th – 19th centuries: Huygens, Malus, Brewster, Biot, Fresnel and Arago, Nicol...

• 19th century: unsuccessful attempts to describe unpolarized light in terms of amplitudes

• 1852: Sir George Gabriel Stokes took a very different approach and discovered that polarization can be described in terms of observables using an experimental definition