In an effort to establish the imaging properties of a new type of polarized-light microscope, we recorded images of small, uniaxial, birefringent crystals. We show that the sequence of in-focus and out-of-focus images, the so-called point-spread function, of a submicroscopic crystal can be used to measure the orientation of its optic axis in three-dimensional space. By analogy to conoscopic images out-of-focus images reveal the changes in relative phase shift between the extraordinary and the ordinary rays that propagate at different directions through the crystal. We also present simulated images of a pointlike anisotropic scattering particle and compare these with our experimental findings. The theoretical model is based on a complete vectorial theory for partial coherent imaging by use of polarized light and high-numerical-aperture lenses.
© 2000 Optical Society of America
(050.1940) Diffraction and gratings : Diffraction
(120.2130) Instrumentation, measurement, and metrology : Ellipsometry and polarimetry
(180.3170) Microscopy : Interference microscopy
(180.6900) Microscopy : Three-dimensional microscopy
(260.1440) Physical optics : Birefringence
Rudolf Oldenbourg and Peter Török, "Point-Spread Functions of a Polarizing Microscope Equipped with High-Numerical-Aperture Lenses," Appl. Opt. 39, 6325-6331 (2000)