A retroreflection (return-path) spectroscopic ellipsometer without a wave plate is described that uses an IR-transparent high-refractive-index hemicylindrical semiconductor substrate to measure the optical properties of aqueous solutions from multiple principal angles and multiple principal azimuths of atten uated internal reflection (AIR) at the semiconductor–solution interface. The pseudo-Brewster angle of minimum reflectance for the p polarization is also readily measured using the same instrument. This wealth of data can also be used to characterize thin films at the solid–liquid interface. Simulated results of AIR at the Si–water interface over the IR spectral range are presented in support of this concept. The optical properties of water and aqueous solutions are important for modeling radiative transfer in the atmosphere and oceans and for biomedical and tissue optics.
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