Reflection at an interface between two materials can be modulated by means of varying the optical properties at the interface. We have studied this modulation of the reflected light with an aim to develop a flashing retroreflector for roadside conspicuity applications. Reflectance modulation has previously been studied under the conditions of total internal reflection (TIR), where a light-absorbing material placed in the associated evanescent wave region can be used to attenuate the intensity of the reflected light. If instead the light rays strike the interface at an angle that is slightly smaller than the critical angle required for TIR, they instead undergo a substantial, but partial, reflection. We have demonstrated that an analogous attenuation effect to the TIR situation is observed, even though there is no evanescent wave present under these circumstances. We have studied this behavior and have developed a model to describe the motion of the absorbing material and the related interference effects that occur.
© 2006 Optical Society of America
Original Manuscript: May 31, 2005
Revised Manuscript: October 7, 2005
Manuscript Accepted: October 10, 2005
Anne H. Webster, Michele A. Mossman, and Lorne A. Whitehead, "Control of reflection at an optical interface in the absence of total internal reflection for a retroreflective display application," Appl. Opt. 45, 1169-1176 (2006)