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Conditions for polarization elements to be dichroic and birefringent

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Abstract

The polarization of light when it passes through optical media can change as a result of change in the amplitude (dichroism) or phase shift (birefringence) of the electric vector. The anisotropic properties of media can be determined from these two optical features. We derive the conditions required for polarization elements to be dichroic and birefringent. Our derivation starts from commonly accepted assumptions for dichroism and birefringence. Our main conclusions are that (i) the generalized Jones matrix for dichroic elements has in general nonorthogonal eigenpolarizations and (ii) in the general case, the birefringent and dichroic properties of polarization elements have no direct association with the corresponding phase and dichroic polar forms derived in the polar decomposition of the polarization elements’ Jones matrices.

© 2005 Optical Society of America

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