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Learning Optics with Austin Lesson 12 – Polarization Revisited

07 Jun 2022

Now that we have explored light waves, we can dive more in depth into polarization. In how to describe light, we mentioned that sunlight is a form of unpolarized light or natural light. But what exactly causes light to become polarized? As light is an electromagnetic wave, it has both an electric field and magnetic field. The polarization state is defined by the electric field which can be linear, elliptical or circular.

Linear Polarization

Linear polarized light travels in a wave perpendicular to the direction of propagation. This wave looks like a line when viewed from the perspective of the light coming at you. The light oscillates along this line in a wave. For circular polarized light, light travels… you guessed it- in a circular fashion. Depending on whether the light travels clockwise or counter-clockwise, we label the polarization as right-hand circular polarization or left-hand circular polarization respectively. For elliptical polarization, the same naming convention goes except for light traveling in an elliptical, rather than circular fashion.

To continue reading about polarization, click here.

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