An effective ellipsometric technique to determine parameters that characterize second-harmonic optical and magneto-optical effects in centrosymmetric media within the electric-dipole approximation is proposed and outlined in detail. The parameters, which are ratios of components of the nonlinear-surface-susceptibility tensors, are obtained from experimental data related to the state of polarization of the second-harmonic-generated radiation as a function of the angle between the plane of incidence and the polarization plane of the incident, linearly polarized, fundamental radiation. Experimental details of the technique are described. A corresponding theoretical model is given as an example for a single isotropic surface assuming polycrystalline samples. The surfaces of air–Au and air–Ni (in magnetized and demagnetized states) have been investigated ex situ in ambient air, and the results are presented. A nonlinear, least-squares-minimization fitting procedure between experimental data and theoretical formulas has been shown to yield realistic, unambiguous results for the ratios corresponding to each of the above materials. Independent methods for verifying the validity of the fitting parameters are also presented. The influence of temporal variations at the surfaces on the state of polarization (due to adsorption, contamination, or oxidation) is also illustrated for the demagnetized air–Ni surface.
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