Application Note

Introduction to Polarization

Source: Edmund Optics

Understanding and manipulating the polarization of light is crucial for many optical applications. Optical design frequently focuses on the wavelength and intensity of light, while neglecting its polarization. Polarization, however, is an important property of light that affects even those optical systems that do not explicitly measure it. The polarization of light affects the focus of laser beams, influences the cut-off wavelengths of filters, and can be important to prevent unwanted back reflections. It is essential for many metrology applications such as stress analysis in glass or plastic, pharmaceutical ingredient analysis, and biological microscopy. Different polarizations of light can also be absorbed to different degrees by materials, an essential property for LCD screens, 3D movies, and your glare-reducing sunglasses.