Abstract

Mueller polarimetry involves a variety of instruments and technologies whose importance and scope of applications are rapidly increasing. The exploitation of these powerful resources depends strongly on the mathematical models that underlie the analysis and interpretation of the measured Mueller matrices and, very particularly, on the theorems for their serial and parallel decompositions. In this Letter, the most general formulation for the parallel decomposition of a Mueller matrix is presented, which overcomes certain critical limitations of the previous approaches, particularly the unnecessary exigency that the Mueller matrices of all parallel components have to be normalized in order to have equal transmittances for unpolarized light. In addition, the obtained results lead to a generalization of the polarimetric subtraction procedure and allow for a formulation of the arbitrary decomposition that integrates, in a natural way, the passivity criterion.

© 2019 Optical Society of America

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