Abstract

Linear polarizers are generally employed in conjunction with advanced liquid-crystal filters for the protection of human eyes and optical sensors. For detection sensitivity under a no-threat condition to be maximized, the polarizer should remain in a clear state with a minimum insertion loss. When threats are present, it should be quickly switched to function as a linear polarizer with a high extinction ratio. Two types of switchable polarizer for sensor protection are demonstrated. The polarization conversion type exhibits a high optical efficiency in its clear state, a high extinction ratio in the linear polarizer state, and a fast switching speed, except that its field of view is limited to approximately ±10°. In contrast, an improved switchable dichroic polarizer functions effectively over a much wider field of view. However, its extinction ratio and optical efficiency in its clear state are lower than those of the polarization conversion type.

© 1995 Optical Society of America

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