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The figure shows a horizontal, unpolarized ray of light incident on a block labeled birefringent crystal. The ray is perpendicular to the face of the crystal where it enters it. The incident ray splits into two rays when it enters the crystal. One part of the ray continues straight on. This ray is horizontally polarized. The other part of the ray propagates at an. This ray is vertically polarized. The second ray refracts upon leaving the crystal such that the two rays are parallel outside the crystal. The rays are labeled as two perpendicularly polarized beams.
Birefringent materials, such as the common mineral calcite, split unpolarized beams of light into two with two different values of index of refraction.


  • Polarization is the attribute that wave oscillations have a definite direction relative to the direction of propagation of the wave. The direction of polarization is defined to be the direction parallel to the electric field of the EM wave.
  • Unpolarized light is composed of many rays having random polarization directions.
  • Unpolarized light can be polarized by passing it through a polarizing filter or other polarizing material. The process of polarizing light decreases its intensity by a factor of 2.
  • The intensity, I , of polarized light after passing through a polarizing filter is I = I 0 cos 2 θ , where I 0 is the incident intensity and θ is the angle between the direction of polarization and the axis of the filter.
  • Polarization is also produced by reflection.
  • Brewster’s law states that reflected light is completely polarized at the angle of reflection θ b , known as Brewster’s angle.
  • Polarization can also be produced by scattering.
  • Several types of optically active substances rotate the direction of polarization of light passing through them.

Key equations

Speed of light c = 2.99792458 × 10 8 m/s 3.00 × 10 8 m/s
Index of refraction n = c v
Law of reflection θ r = θ i
Law of refraction (Snell’s law) n 1 sin θ 1 = n 2 sin θ 2
Critical angle θ c = sin −1 ( n 2 n 1 ) for n 1 > n 2
Malus’s law I = I 0 cos 2 θ
Brewster’s law tan θ b = n 2 n 1

Conceptual questions

Can a sound wave in air be polarized? Explain.

No. Sound waves are not transverse waves.

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No light passes through two perfect polarizing filters with perpendicular axes. However, if a third polarizing filter is placed between the original two, some light can pass. Why is this? Under what circumstances does most of the light pass?

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Explain what happens to the energy carried by light that it is dimmed by passing it through two crossed polarizing filters.

Energy is absorbed into the filters.

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When particles scattering light are much smaller than its wavelength, the amount of scattering is proportional to 1 λ . Does this mean there is more scattering for small λ than large λ ? How does this relate to the fact that the sky is blue?

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Using the information given in the preceding question, explain why sunsets are red.

Sunsets are viewed with light traveling straight from the Sun toward us. When blue light is scattered out of this path, the remaining red light dominates the overall appearance of the setting Sun.

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When light is reflected at Brewster’s angle from a smooth surface, it is 100 % polarized parallel to the surface. Part of the light will be refracted into the surface. Describe how you would do an experiment to determine the polarization of the refracted light. What direction would you expect the polarization to have and would you expect it to be 100 % ?

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If you lie on a beach looking at the water with your head tipped slightly sideways, your polarized sunglasses do not work very well. Why not?

The axis of polarization for the sunglasses has been rotated 90 ° .

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What angle is needed between the direction of polarized light and the axis of a polarizing filter to cut its intensity in half?

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Questions & Answers

عند قذف جسم إلى أعلى بسرعة إبتدائية فإنه سيصل إلى ارتفاع معين (أقصى ارتفاع) ثم يعود هابطاً نحو سطح الأرض .   إذا قُذِفَ جسم إلى أعلى ووجد أن سرعته 18 م / ث عندما قطع 1/4 المسافة التي تمثل أقصى ارتفاع سيصله فالمطلوب إيجاد السرعة التي قُذِف بها بالمتر / ث . إن هذه السرعة هي واحدة من الإجابات التالية
Aml Reply
what is light
Ayebanifesunday Reply
light is a kind of radiation That stimulates sight brightness a source of illumination.
Electromagnet radiation creates space 7th, 8th, and 9th dimensions at the rate of c.
That is the reason that the speed of light is constant.
This creation of new space is "Dark Energy".
The first two sets of three dimensions, 1 through 6, are "Dark Matter".
As matter decays into luminous matter, a proton, a neutron, and an electron creat deuterium.
There are three sets of three protons, 9.
There are three sets of three neutrons, 9.
A free neutron decays into a proton, an electron, and a neutrino.
There are three sets of five neutrinoes, 15.
Neutrinoes are two dimensional.
A positron is composed of the first three dimensions.
An electron is composed of the second three dimensions.
What is photoelectric
Hsssan Reply
light energy (photons) through semiconduction of N-P junction into electrical via excitation of silicon purified and cristalized into wafers with partially contaminated silicon to allow this N-P function to operate.
i.e. Solar pannel.
If you lie on a beach looking at the water with your head tipped slightly sideways, your polarized sunglasses do not work very well.Why not?
Rakhi Reply
it has everything to do with the angle the UV sunlight strikes your sunglasses.
this is known as optical physics. it describes how visible light, ultraviolet light and infrared light interact when they come into contact with physical matter. usually the photons or light upon interaction result in either reflection refraction diffraction or interference of the light.
I hope I'm clear if I'm not please tell me to clarify further or rephrase
what is bohrs model for hydrogen atom
Swagatika Reply
what is the value of speed of light
Propessor Reply
1.79×10_¹⁹ km per hour
what r dwarf planet
Sivalakshmi Reply
what is energy
Isiguzo Reply
কাজের একক কী
কাজের একক কী
Energy is ability so capacity to do work.
friction ka direction Kaise pata karte hai
Rahul Reply
friction is always in the opposite of the direction of moving object
A twin paradox in the special theory of relativity arises due to.....? a) asymmetric of time only b) symmetric of time only c) only time
Varia Reply
b) symmetric of time only
fundamental note of a vibrating string
fasoyin Reply
every matter made up of particles and particles are also subdivided which are themselves subdivided and so on ,and the basic and smallest smallest smallest division is energy which vibrates to become particles and thats why particles have wave nature
what are matter waves? Give some examples
mallam Reply
according to de Broglie any matter particles by attaining the higher velocity as compared to light'ill show the wave nature and equation of wave will applicable on it but in practical life people see it is impossible however it is practicaly true and possible while looking at the earth matter at far
a centeral part of theory of quantum mechanics example:just like a beam of light or a water wave
Mathematical expression of principle of relativity
Nasir Reply
given that the velocity v of wave depends on the tension f in the spring, it's length 'I' and it's mass 'm'. derive using dimension the equation of the wave
obia Reply
What is the importance of de-broglie's wavelength?
Mukulika Reply
he related wave to matter
at subatomic level wave and matter are associated. this refering to mass energy equivalence
it is key of quantum

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Source:  OpenStax, University physics volume 3. OpenStax CNX. Nov 04, 2016 Download for free at http://cnx.org/content/col12067/1.4
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