Abstract

The simplest form for the correlation matrix of a completely unpolarized electromagnetic beam is the product of a scalar correlation function times a unit matrix. We show, however, that classes of unpolarized beams exist for which the diagonal elements of the correlation matrix are not equal to each other and the off-diagonal elements do not vanish identically. This gives rise to a distinction between pure and impure unpolarized beams. The two types of beams can be distinguished at the experimental level by their behavior in a Young’s interferometer.

© 2009 Optical Society of America

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