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Detection of Plane, Circularly and Elliptically Polarised Light

(i)                 Plane Polarised Light: The light beam is allowed to fall on Nicol prism. If on rotation of Nicol prism, intensity of emitted light can be completely extinguished at two places in each rotation, then light is plane polarised.

 

Circularly Polarised Light: The light beam is allowed to fall on a Nicol prism. If on rotation of Nicol prism the intensity of emitted light remains same, then light is either circularly polarised or unpolarised. To differentiate between unpolarised and circularly polarised light, the light is first passed through quarter wave plate and then through Nicol prism. Because if beam is circularly polarised then after passing through quarter wave-plate an extra difference of λ/ 4 is introduced between ordinary and extraordinary component and gets converted into plane  polarised. Thus on rotating the Nicol, the light can.be extinguished at two plates. If, on the other hand, the beam is unpolarised, it remains unpolarised after passing through quarter wave plate and on rotating the Nicol, there is no change in intensity of emitted light (Figure 6.18).

(i)                 Elliptically Polarised Light. The light beam is allowed to fall on Nicol prism. If on rotation of Nicol prism, the intensity of emitted light varies from maximum to minimum, then light is either elliptically polarised or a mixture of plane polarized and unpolarised. To differentiate between the two, the light is first passed through quarter wave plate and then through Nicol prism. Because, if beam is elliptically polarised, then after passing through quarter wave plate, an extra path difference of λ/ 4 is introduced between 0-ray and E-ray and get converted into plane polarized Thus, on rotating the Nicol, the light can be extinguished l’lt two places. If, on the other hand, beam is mixture of polarised and unpolarised it remains mixture after passing through quarter wave plate and on rotating the Nicol intensity of emitted light varies from maximum to minimum (Figure 6.19).

Summary of detection of polarisation of light