Polarizers with transmittances of 35 to 45% are common (Nicol prisms, dichroic polarizers); with non-reflecting coatings, such polarizers can be made with transmittances approaching 50%. Beam-splitting polarizers can be made with transmittances approaching 100%, but these polarizers are not “spathic”: The geometry of the emergent beam is quite different from the geometry of the entering beam.
In this paper it is shown that a spathic polarizer with a transmittance of 100% is impossible; such a polarizer would violate the laws of thermodynamics. It is shown how one can construct in principle a spathic polarizer with a transmittance of about 89%, the exact figure depending on the brightness and wavelength of the light. It is further shown that as far as thermodynamic limitations alone are concerned, a spathic polarizer having a transmittance of about 99% is possible.
The quantitative results are based on Planck’s thermodynamic theory of heat radiation.
© 1962 Optical Society of AmericaFull Article | PDF Article
OSA Recommended Articles
R. Clark Jones
J. Opt. Soc. Am. 43(2) 138-144 (1953)
David L. MacAdam
J. Opt. Soc. Am. 32(5) 247-274 (1942)
John E. Heebner, Ryan S. Bennink, Robert W. Boyd, and R. A. Fisher
Opt. Lett. 25(4) 257-259 (2000)