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Quantifying polarization changes induced by rotating Dove prisms and K-mirrors

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Abstract

Dove prisms and K-mirrors are devices extensively used for rotating the wavefront of an optical field. These devices have several applications, including the measurement of orbital angular momentum, microscopy, beam steering, and pattern recognition. However, the wavefront rotation achieved through these devices is always accompanied by polarization changes in the incident field, which is an undesirable feature in many of these applications. Although the polarization changes induced by a Dove prism have been explored to quite some extent, no such study is available for a K-mirror. In this paper, we theoretically and experimentally investigate polarization changes induced in the transmitted field by a rotating K-mirror. For quantifying such polarization changes, we define a quantity, mean polarization change $D$, which ranges from 0 to $\pi$. We find that K-mirrors can reduce $D$ to about $0.03\pi$ for any incident state of polarization; however, reducing $D$ to the same extent with a Dove prism is practically unviable. Therefore, K-mirrors are better alternatives to Dove prisms in applications in which the polarization changes accompanying wavefront rotation need to be minimum.

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Supplementary Material (1)

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