Abstract

A technique for calculating the optical constants of powdered materials that have been pressed into pellets along with a diluent such as polyethylene, as is commonly used in the spectroscopy community, is introduced. The simple Beer–Lambert law typically used to calculate the optical constants has the inherent weakness that it treats the absorbing medium as a single nonporous solid, as opposed to a dielectric material embedded within a medium. This leads to a systematic underestimation of both the absorption coefficient and the refractive index, especially at low filling factors. Effective medium theory provides a way to calculate more accurate optical constants and produces similar optical constants across a wide range of filling factors, including crucially at the low filling factors commonly used experimentally. The technique can also be extended to estimate the porosity of the samples and provide a true, preparation-independent value for the optical properties of the sample material.

© 2009 Optical Society of America

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