Abstract

For light fields, the manifestation of correlations between fluctuating electric field components at different space–time points is referred to as coherence, whereas these correlations appearing between orthogonal electric field components at a single space–time point are referred to as polarization. In this context, a natural question is as follows: how are coherence and polarization interconnected? Very recently, a tight equality P2=V2+D2, namely, the “polarization coherence theorem” (PCT) connecting polarization P with interference visibility V (measure of coherence) and distinguishability D (measure of which-path information) has been proposed [Optica 4, 1113 (2017) [CrossRef]  ]. We here report a direct observation of the PCT for classical light fields using a Mach–Zehnder interferometer along with a synthesized source producing a complete gamut of degrees of polarizations. Our experimental demonstration could motivate ongoing experimental efforts toward probing the hidden coherences and complementarity features.

© 2018 Optical Society of America

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