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Effective principal refractive indices and column angles for periodic stacks of thin birefringent films

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Abstract

An effective medium theory is developed for periodic stacks of thin films A and B, one or both of which may be birefringent because of an effect such as columnar microstructure. The equivalent medium is itself described as columnlike, and the theory permits calculation of the angle of the effective columns together with the magnitudes of the effective principal refractive indices. Several examples that relate to possible applications of the method are discussed, and it is shown that optical media with predetermined refractive indices and birefringence may be engineered. For example, the layered combination of a low-index material A with zero or small normal-incidence refractive anisotropy and a high-index material B with large anisotropy may be used to make a medium-index material with considerable normal-incidence anisotropy.

© 1993 Optical Society of America

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