Abstract

An adjustable Wollaston-like prism is characterized for use in shearing- and differential schlieren-interferometry with laser and white-light illumination. We demonstrate that a polycarbonate prism under mechanical loading behaves identically to Wollaston's classical birefringent beam splitter. A linear relationship is found between the pure bending moment applied to the polycarbonate prism and the resulting light-beam-divergence angle. The utility of this prism in shearing-interferometry is shown by using it in place of the knife-edge in small and large schlieren optical systems. It is inexpensive to fabricate, and it yields adjustable beam-divergence angles over a range of at least 0–24 arc min.

© 2008 Optical Society of America

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