Abstract

The principles for measuring the extinction ratio and transmittance of a polarizer are formulated by use of the principal Mueller matrix, which includes both polarization and depolarization. The extinction ratio is about half of the depolarization, and the contrast is the inverse of the extinction ratio. Errors in the extinction ratio caused by partially polarized incident light and the misalignment of polarizers can be corrected by the devised zone average method and the null method. Used with a laser source, the null method can measure contrasts for very good polarizers. Correct algorithms are established to deduce the depolarization for three comparable polarizers calibrated mutually. These methods are tested with wire-grid polarizers used in the 3–5-μm wavelength region with a laser source and also a lamp source. The contrasts obtained from both methods agree.

© 1998 Optical Society of America

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