All 16 elements of the Mueller matrix of an optical system (sample) can be encoded onto, hence can be retrieved from, a single detected signal using a class of photopolarimeters with modulated polarizing and analyzing optics. The general theory of operation of such polarimeters is presented. We also propose a specific new photopolarimeter whose polarizing and analyzing optics are modulated by synchronously rotating two quarter-wave retarders at angular speeds ω and 5ω. When the light flux leaving such polarimeter is linearly detected, a periodic signal
is generated, with fundamental frequency ωf = 2ω. From the Fourier amplitudes a0, an, bn, to be measured by performing a discrete Fourier transform (DFT) of the signal ℐ, the 16 elements of the Mueller matrix are simply determined.
© 1978 Optical Society of America
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