Abstract

An investigation is made of the vectorial and geometrical representation of the polarization of light propagating through a weakly inhomogeneous absorbing anisotropic and optically active medium. When the approximations of geometrical optics are used, Maxwell's equations lead to the equation ∂<b>G</b>/∂<i>x</i>3 = (<i>i</i>/2)(Ω + <i>i</i><b>T</b>)<b>G</b>, governing the behavior of polarized light propagating along the <i>X</i><sub>3</sub> axis in the medium, where <i>X</i><sub>3</sub> is the propagation distance along a light path, <b>G</b> is the complex amplitude of the electric vector, the vectors Ω = (0, Ω<sub>1</sub>, Ω<sub>2</sub>, Ω<sub>3</sub>) and <b>T</b>= (<i>T</i><sub>0</sub>, <i>T</i><sub>1</sub>, <i>T</i><sub>2</sub>, <i>T</i><sub>3</sub>), whose basis vectors are the unit matrix and the Pauli spin matrices, represent the optical properties of the medium. The two successive transformations of the resulting equation by the Stokes vector and the normalized polarization vector s yield a simple vector equation ∂s/∂x3 = Ω × s + (T˚ × <i>s</i>) × s, where Ω = (Ω<sub>1</sub>, Ω<sub>2</sub>, Ω<sub>3</sub>) and T˚ = (<i>T</i><sub>1</sub>, <i>T</i><sub>2</sub>, <i>T</i><sub>3</sub>) are defined as the birefringent vector and the dichroic vector, respectively, representing the birefrin ence and the dichroism of the absorbing medium. The component Ω<sub>1</sub>, (or T<sub>1</sub>) shows the linear birefringence (or the dichroism) along the <i>x</i><sub>1</sub> and <i>x</i><sub>2</sub> axes, Ω<sub>2</sub> (or <i>T</i><sub>2</sub>) shows the linear birefringence (or dichroism) along the bisectors of the <i>x</i><sub>1</sub> and <i>X</i><sub>2</sub> axes, and Ω<sub>3</sub> (or <i>T</i><sub>3</sub>) shows the circular birefringence (or dichroism). The vector equation can represent clearly the geometrical behavior of the polarization of light in the inhomogeneous absorbing medium with the help of the Poincaré sphere.

© 1983 Optical Society of America

PDF Article

References

You do not have subscription access to this journal. Citation lists with outbound citation links are available to subscribers only. You may subscribe either as an OSA member, or as an authorized user of your institution.

Contact your librarian or system administrator
or
Login to access OSA Member Subscription

Cited By

You do not have subscription access to this journal. Cited by links are available to subscribers only. You may subscribe either as an OSA member, or as an authorized user of your institution.

Contact your librarian or system administrator
or
Login to access OSA Member Subscription