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# Polarization and Modern Optics

## Polarizing Beam-Splitter Cube

Half-wave Plate
Quarter-wave Plate
Electro-Optic Modulator
Charles Bernando
Polarization
Property of waves that describes the orientation
of their oscillations
Example: electromagnetic wave (light)

= phase difference
1 0
cos( . ) E E k y wt =
2 0
cos( . ) E E k y wt = +
Linear Polarization Circular Polarization

= 0, , 2, .. = /2, 3/2, ..

Elliptical Polarization
1 0
cos( . ) E E k y wt =
2 0
cos( . ) E E k y wt =
1 0
cos( . ) E E k y wt =
1 0
cos( . ) E E k y wt =
2 0 0
sin( . ) cos .
2
E E k y wt E k y wt
t
| |
= =
|
\ .
2 0
cos( . ) E k y wt c =
Polarizing Beam-splitter Cube
Split randomly polarized beams into 2 orthogonal,
linearly, polarized components (s-polarized & p-
polarized). S-polarized is reflected at 90
0
angle, while P-
polarized light is transmitted
S-wave: electric field perpendicular to plane of incidence
P-wave: electric field parallel to plane of incidence
AR (antireflection) coating: produce max transmission
efficiency
Cement: bind 2 prisms
BS (beam-splitter) coating or dielectric coating or thin
film coating: consists of thin layers of transparent
dielectric materials with different refractive indexes,
which are deposited on a substrate. It will produce phase
shift due to reflections and reinforce certain wavelengths.
By controlling the thickness and number of the layers,
the reflectivity & transmissivity can be adjusted

= vector of beam-splitter interface
= vector of incident light
= state of polarization of s-wave
= state of polarization of p-wave

For light incident along z-axis,

J. L. Pezzaniti and R. A. Chipman. Angular dependence of polarizing
beam-splitter cubes. Appl. Opt. 33(10), pp. 1916-1929. 1994.
( )
1
1, 0, 1
2
n
.
=
( )
0, 0,1 k
.
=
n k
s
n k
. .
.
. .

p s k
. . .
=
( )
0,1, 0 s
.
= ( )
1, 0, 0 p
.
=

s
p
Half-wave Plate
Shift the phase between 2 perpendicular
components of electric field (the phase shift is rad)
Change linear polarized wave into another linear
polarized wave
Material: quartz, calcite
Optical axis = fast axis/extraordinary axis is
the axis with the smaller index of refraction
Slow axis = ordinary axis (perpendicular to fast axis)
is the axis with the higher index of refraction
The light component along the fast axis will travel
faster than the light component along the slow axis
Due to velocity difference, the light component
along fast axis and slow axis will be shifted until
the outcome phase shift is rad. The phase shift
depends on the thickness of a material.

= phase shift
n
e
= extraordinary index
n
o
= ordinary index
L = thickness of material
= wavelength
2 .( ).
e o
n n L t
|

=
Quarter-wave Plate
Shift the phase between 2 perpendicular components of
electric field (the shift phase is /2 rad)
Change linear polarized wave into circular polarized wave
when the incident light makes 45
0
angle with the fast
axis
Electro Optic Modulator
A device used for controlling the polarization of a laser
beam with an electrical control signal
By applying an appropriate voltage to the RF input, a
corresponding change in the extraordinary refractive
index will occur
The voltage required for inducing a phase change of is
called the half-wave voltage
Jones Matrix
Linear horizontal polarizer
Linear vertical polarizer
Half wave plate

Quarter wave plate

Example: linearly polarized light 45
0
(basis ) is
incident on a horizontal polarizer. The outcome is
horizontally polarized
1 0
0 0
(
(

0 0
0 1
(
(

cos 2 sin2
sin2 cos 2
u u
u u
(
(

2 2
2 2
cos sin (1 )sin cos
(1 )sin cos sin cos
i i
i i
u u u u
u u u u
( +
(
+

1 0 1 1
0 0 1 0
( ( (
=
( ( (

1
1
(
(

For beam splitter, please see: A. L. Fymat. Jones's matrix representation of
optical instruments. I: Beam splitters. Appl. Opt. 10(11), pp. 2499-2505. 1971.
Conclusion
Beam splitter is used to resolve a beam of light
into 2 beams by reflecting the s-wave and
transmitting the p-wave
The wave plates (half and quarter wave plate) are
designed to change the state of polarization of
incoming light
The Electro Optic Modulators use a potential
difference to change and adjust the extraordinary
refractive index to get the expected phase shift
between 2 components of light