Abstract

The question as to what happens to a beam of unpolarized light in passing through an optically active medium does not seem to have been given a definite answer. If such a beam can be regarded as made up of a large number of elementary components, each plane polarized, then each component should suffer a rotation. Consequently, if an unpolarized beam is separated into two parts and one passed through a dextro- and the other through a laevo-rotary solution, such that the sum of the rotations is 90°, the emergent beams should be incapable of interference. With the use of a Fresnel bi-prism it was found that the interference fringes disappeared when the optically active solutions were in place. They reappeared when the field of view was examined with a quarter-wave plate, showing the existence of circularly polarized light as expected.

© 1934 Optical Society of America

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