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Applied Optics

Applied Optics


  • Editor: James C. Wyant
  • Vol. 47, Iss. 3 — Jan. 20, 2008
  • pp: 359–364

Polarization properties of retroreflecting right-angle prisms

R. M. A. Azzam and H. K. Khanfar  »View Author Affiliations

Applied Optics, Vol. 47, Issue 3, pp. 359-364 (2008)

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The cumulative retardance Δ t introduced between the p and the s orthogonal linear polarizations after two successive total internal reflections (TIRs) inside a right-angle prism at complementary angles ϕ and 90 ° ϕ is calculated as a function of ϕ and prism refractive index n. Quarter-wave retardation (QWR) is obtained on retroreflection with minimum angular sensitivity when n = ( 2 + 1 ) 1 / 2 = 1.55377 and ϕ = 45 ° . A QWR prism made of N-BAK4 Schott glass ( n = 1.55377 at λ = 1303.5   nm ) has good spectral response ( < 5 ° retardance error) over the 0.5– 2 μ m visible and near-IR spectral range. A ZnS-coated right-angle Si prism achieves QWR with an error of < ± 2.5 ° in the 9– 11 μ m ( CO 2 laser) IR spectral range. This device functions as a linear-to-circular polarization transformer and can be tuned to exact QWR at any desired wavelength (within a given range) by tilting the prism by a small angle around ϕ = 45 ° . A PbTe right-angle prism introduces near-half-wave retardation (near-HWR) with a 2 % error over a broad ( 4 λ 12.5 μ m ) IR spectral range. This device also has a wide field of view and its interesting polarization properties are discussed. A compact (aspect ratio of 2), in-line, HWR is described that uses a chevron dual Fresnel rhomb with four TIRs at the same angle ϕ = 45 ° . Finally, a useful algorithm is presented that transforms a three-term Sellmeier dispersion relation of a transparent optical material to an equivalent cubic equation that can be solved for the wavelengths at which the refractive index assumes any desired value.

© 2008 Optical Society of America

OCIS Codes
(160.2750) Materials : Glass and other amorphous materials
(230.5440) Optical devices : Polarization-selective devices
(230.5480) Optical devices : Prisms
(240.0240) Optics at surfaces : Optics at surfaces
(260.2130) Physical optics : Ellipsometry and polarimetry
(260.3060) Physical optics : Infrared

ToC Category:
Physical Optics

Original Manuscript: October 2, 2007
Manuscript Accepted: November 3, 2007
Published: January 14, 2008

R. M. A. Azzam and H. K. Khanfar, "Polarization properties of retroreflecting right-angle prisms," Appl. Opt. 47, 359-364 (2008)

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