Abstract

We measure Stokes parameter correlations in analogy to the intensity correlation measurements in the original Hanbury-Brown & Twiss configuration by realizing an experimental setup by combining a Schaefer–Collett or Berry–Gabrielse–Livingston polarimeter with a Hanbury-Brown & Twiss intensity interferometer. We investigate true unpolarized light emitted from a broadband thermal light source, which we realize by an erbium-doped fiber amplifier, thus being an ideal source of true unpolarized light. We find that all Stokes parameter correlations $\langle {S_n}{S_n}\rangle$, $n \in \{1,2,3\}$ are equal to $0.5{\langle I\rangle ^2}$. The proven invariance of the Stokes parameter correlations against retardation by wave-plates clearly shows for the first time, to the best of our knowledge, that our true unpolarized thermal light represents type I unpolarized light in accordance with a theoretical prediction for a classification of unpolarized light postulated more than 20 years ago.

© 2020 Optical Society of America

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