Abstract

Thin birefringent prisms placed near an image plane introduce sinusoidal fringes onto a 2D polarized scene making possible a snapshot imaging polarimeter, which encodes polarization information into the modulation of the fringes. This approach was introduced by Oka and Kaneko [Opt. Express 11, 1510 (2003)], who analyzed the instrument through the Mueller calculus. We show that the plane-wave assumption adopted in the Mueller theory can introduce unnecessary error in a polarimeter design. To directly take prism effects such as beam splitting and deviating into accounts we introduce a geometric imaging model, which allows for a versatile simulation of the birefringent prisms and provides a means for optimization. A calcite visible system is investigated as an example, which essentially shows how each design parameter affects the overall image quality and how to modify the polarimeter design to optimize overall performance. The approach is applicable to any prismatic imaging polarimeter with different prism materials and different working wavelengths.

© 2006 Optical Society of America

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