OSA's Digital Library

Journal of the Optical Society of America

Journal of the Optical Society of America

  • Vol. 39, Iss. 3 — Mar. 1, 1949
  • pp: 229–237

The Birefringent Filter

JOHN W. EVANS  »View Author Affiliations

JOSA, Vol. 39, Issue 3, pp. 229-237 (1949)

View Full Text Article

Acrobat PDF (1625 KB)

Browse Journals / Lookup Meetings

Browse by Journal and Year


Lookup Conference Papers

Close Browse Journals / Lookup Meetings

Article Tools



Optical birefringent niters, which depend for their action on the interference of polarized light, can be designed to transmit very sharp bands (down to a fraction of an angstrom in width). The elementary theory necessary for their design is given.

Three forms of wide field filters designed by Lyot are described in detail. A more recently developed split element, wide field filter requires only half as many polarizers as the earlier types, which may be an advantage for some applications.

Various methods of adjusting the transmission bands of a birefringent filter, including the use of elements of variable thickness, and phase shifters are discussed. For most purposes the electro-optical phase shifters are probably the most promising. For special purposes, such as spectrophotometry, phase shifters composed of rotating fractional wave plates may be more advantageous. Two such phase shifters and their application in simple and split element filters are described.

A few crystalline materials which have been used or might be used to advantage in birefringent filters are mentioned.

Finally, the possibility of using polarizing interferometers in combination with birefringent elements for filters with extremely sharp transmission bands (in the range of hundredths or thousandths of an angstrom) is very briefly discussed.

JOHN W. EVANS, "The Birefringent Filter," J. Opt. Soc. Am. 39, 229-237 (1949)

Sort:  Author  |  Journal  |  Reset


  1. B. Lyot, Comptes Rendus 197, 1593 (1933).
  2. Y. Öhman, Nature 141, No. 3560, 157 (1938); Nature 141, No. 3563, 291 (1938); PopulÖr Astronomisk Tidskrift, No. 1–2, pp. 11 and 27 (1938).
  3. B. Lyot, Ann. Astrophys. 7, No. 1–2, p. 31 (1944).
  4. T. Preston, Theory of Light, 3rd Edition (MacMillan Company, Ltd., London, 1901), p. 397.
  5. J. Evans, Ciencia e Investigación (Argentina) Vol. Ill, No. 9, p. 365 (1947).
  6. Bruce H. Billings, J. Opt. Soc. Am. 37, 738 (1947).

Cited By

Alert me when this paper is cited

OSA is able to provide readers links to articles that cite this paper by participating in CrossRef's Cited-By Linking service. CrossRef includes content from more than 3000 publishers and societies. In addition to listing OSA journal articles that cite this paper, citing articles from other participating publishers will also be listed.

« Previous Article  |  Next Article »

OSA is a member of CrossRef.

CrossCheck Deposited