Abstract

The properties of three alternative designs for a polarization modulator of potential use for the measurement of vibrational circular dichroism (VCD) are evaluated and compared by use of Mueller calculus. The analysis shows that the combination of a fixed polarizer plus either a photoelastic modulator or a rotating quarter-wave plate possesses nearly the same capability for generation of time-varying, circularly polarized light. However, a modulator composed of a rotating polarizer plus a fixed birefringent plate entails considerable theoretical and experimental difficulties for use in the measurement of VCD spectra. While VCD spectra obtained with the rotating devices can be calibrated in the same manner as spectra obtained with a photoelastic modulator, Mueller analysis shows that the form of the resultant calibration signal will have a different shape. The relevant expressions for VCD and linear dichroism as well as the calibration signals are presented, and consequences for practical realization of these experiments are discussed.

© 1997 Optical Society of America

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