The mechanical rotation of an optical element around the axis of a beam of polarized light can be easily simulated by using the phenomenon of <i>optical</i> rotation. Because optical rotation can be magnetically or electrically induced, virtually any kind of mechanical rotation can be mimicked. This interesting principle is applied to the design of a new Fourier photopolarimeter that uses an oscillating-azimuth retarder (OAR). The OAR consists of a quarter-wave plate surrounded by two ac-excited Faraday cells that produce equal and opposite sinusoidal optical rotations. Analysis of the operation of this polarimeter of no moving parts proves its ability to measure all four Stokes parameters of incident partially polarized radiation.
© 1978 Optical Society of AmericaPDF Article