Phase retardation between two orthogonal circularly polarized light waves that propagate in an optical active medium is proportional to its optical activity. The measurement of optical activity of a quartz depolarizer in terms of the phase difference of two orthogonal circularly polarized waves is proposed. A circularly polarized optical heterodyne interferometer with a Zeeman laser to measure the optical activity of a quartz crystal is demonstrated experimentally. The accuracy of the measurement is discussed. In addition, the effect of elliptical polarization and nonorthogonality of linearly polarized light waves of a Zeeman laser on the optical activity measurement is analyzed.
© 2003 Optical Society of America
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