You are on page 1of 3

Michael Faraday in 1845 discovered that the manner in which light
propagated through a material medium could be influenced by the
application of an external magnetic field. In particular, he found that the
plane of vibration of linear light incident on a piece of glass rotated when a
strong magnetic field was applied in the propagation direction. The Faraday
Effect was one of the earliest indications of the interrelationship between
electromagnetism and light. Although it is reminiscent of optical activity,
there is an important distinction.
The angle (measured in minutes of arc) through which the plane of
vibration rotates is given by the empirically determined expression
where B is the static magnetic flux density (usually in gauss), d is the
length of medium traversed (in cm), and V is a factor of proportionality
known as the Verdet constant. The Verdet constant for a particular medium
varies with both frequency (dropping off rapidly as v decreases) and
temperature. It is roughly of the order of 10 min of arc gauss cm for gases
and 10 min of arc gauss cm for solids and liquids (see Table 8.2). You can
get a better feeling for the meaning of these numbers by imagining, for
example, a 1 cm long sample of H 2 0 in the moderately large field of l0 4
gauss. (The Earth's field is about one half gauss.) In that particular case, a
rotation of 2 11' would result since V= 0.0131.
By convention, a positive Verdet constant corresponds to a idiamagnetic)
material for which the Faraday Effect is l rotatory when the light moves parallel
to the applied B field and d rotatory when it propagates antiparallel to B. No
such reversal of handedness occurs in the case of natural optical activity.
For a convenient mnemonic, imagine the B-field to be generated by a
solenoidal coil wound about the sample. The plane of vibration, when V is
positive, rotates in the same direction as the current in the coil, regardless
of the beam's propagation direction along its axis. Consequently, the effect
can be amplified by reflecting the light back and forth a few times through
the sample.
The theoretical treatment of the Faraday Effect involves the quantummechanical theory of dispersion, including the effects of B on the atomic or
molecular energy levels. It will suffice here merely to outline the limited
classical argument for nonmagnetic materials.

the polarization.Suppose the incident light to be circular and monochromatic. one speaks of two normal modes of propagation of electromagnetic waves through the medium. Consequently. to which has been added a quantity of gallium. utilized the synthetic magnetic crystal yttrium-iron garnet (YIG). The device is depicted schematically in Fig. as well as two values of the index of refraction. That force can point either toward or away from the circle's center. YIG has a structure similar to that of natural gem garnets. depending on the handedness of the light and the direction of the constant B-field. It can be used to analyze mixtures of hydrocarbons. constructed by R. The total magnetization vector (arising from the constant field and the field of the coil) can vary in direction. A linear infrared laserbeam enters the crystal from the left. In the case of a magnetized material B is proportional to the component of the magnetization in the direction of propagation rather than the component of the applied dc field. Since the Faraday rotation depends on the axial component of the magnetization. (The effect of the wave's B-field is negligible. Interestingly. for a given magnetic field there will be two possible values of the electric dipole moment. the R and L states. There are a number of practical applications of the Faraday Effect. The discussion can then proceed in precisely the same fashion as that of Fresnel's treatment of optical activity. since each constituent has a characteristic magnetic rotation. being tilted toward the axis of the crystal by an amount proportional to the modulating current in the coil. it yields information about the properties of energy states above the ground level. The total radial force (F M plus the elastic restoring force) can therefore have two different values. and so too can the radius of the orbit. the Faraday Effect has been used to make optical modulators.) The introduction of a large constant applied magnetic field perpendicular to the plane of the orbit will result in a radial force F M on the electron. An elastically bound electron will take on a steady state circular orbit being driven by the rotating E-field of the wave. the signal to be transmitted is introduced across the coil as a modulating . In short. For ferromagnetic substances things are somewhat more complicated. When utilized in spectroscopic studies.55. The analyzer then converts this polarization modulation to amplitude modulation by way of Malus's Law. n and n. 8. C. the coil current controls B. As before. and the permittivity. An infrared version. A transverse dc magnetic field saturates the magnetization of the YIG crystal in that direction. LeCraw.

and rather succinctly at that. whereas the latter. the Faraday and Cotton-Mouton Effects occur concurrently.. The former occurs in vapors. (8.voltage. There are actually several other magneto-optic effects.e. that is. normal to the light beam [Eq. with the former generally being much the larger of the two. The two indices of refraction now correspond to the situations in which the plane-of-vibration of the wave is either normal or parallel to the constant magnetic field. It arises in liquids from an aligning of the optically and magnetically anisotropic molecules of the medium with that field. occurs in liquids. . to be considered next. We shall consider only two of these. Their difference Aw (i. the birefringence) is proportional to the square of the applied magnetic field. If the incoming light propagates at some angle to the static field other than 0 or pi. The Cotton-Mouton is the magnetic analogue of the Kerr (electrooptic) Effect. In either case the medium displays birefringence similar to that of a uniaxial crystal whose optic axis is in the direction of the dc magnetic field. which is considerably stronger. and the emerging laserbeam carries that information in the form of amplitude variations. The Voigl and CottonMouton Effects both arise when a constant magnetic field is applied to a transparent medium perpendicular to the direction of propagation of the incident light beam.32)].