Abstract

A photoreceptor is a non-uniform, anisotropic, absorbing, dielectric waveguide. Its physiological response is a function of the amount of light absorbed. Absorption is found by determining the light lost from each of the electromagnetic modes propagating along the photoreceptor. The modes are either (a) non-orthogonal and elliptically polarized, or (b) perpendicular and linearly polarized. Application of the results to fused rhabdoms shows that the direction of the electric vector E of linearly polarized light necessary for maximum absorption by a rhabdomere is parallel to the rhabdomere’s microvilli only when these are parallel to one of the photoreceptor’s optical axes.

© 1974 Optical Society of America

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