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Journal of the Optical Society of America

Journal of the Optical Society of America

  • Vol. 52, Iss. 7 — Jul. 1, 1962
  • pp: 747–750

Ultimate Performance of Polarizers for Visible Light

R. CLARK JONES  »View Author Affiliations


JOSA, Vol. 52, Issue 7, pp. 747-750 (1962)
http://dx.doi.org/10.1364/JOSA.52.000747


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Abstract

Polarizers with transmittances of 35 to 45% are common (Nicol prisms, dichroic polarizers); with non-reflecting coatings, such polarizers can be made with transmittances approaching 50%. Beam-splitting polarizers can be made with transmittances approaching 100%, but these polarizers are not “spathic”: The geometry of the emergent beam is quite different from the geometry of the entering beam.

In this paper it is shown that a spathic polarizer with a transmittance of 100% is impossible; such a polarizer would violate the laws of thermodynamics. It is shown how one can construct in principle a spathic polarizer with a transmittance of about 89%, the exact figure depending on the brightness and wavelength of the light. It is further shown that as far as thermodynamic limitations alone are concerned, a spathic polarizer having a transmittance of about 99% is possible.

The quantitative results are based on Planck’s thermodynamic theory of heat radiation.

Citation
R. CLARK JONES, "Ultimate Performance of Polarizers for Visible Light," J. Opt. Soc. Am. 52, 747-750 (1962)
http://www.opticsinfobase.org/josa/abstract.cfm?URI=josa-52-7-747


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References

  1. M. Planck, Vorlesungen üiber die Theorie der Wärmestrahlung (Johann Ambrosius Barth, Leipzig, 1913), 2nd ed.
  2. M. Planck, The Theory of Heat Radiation (P. Blackiston's Son and Company, Philadelphia, 1914; Dover Publications, Inc., New York, 1959). Translation of reference 1 by M. Masius.
  3. J. K. Roberts, Heat and Thermodynamics (Blackie and Son Limited, London, 1933), 2nd ed., p. 396.
  4. Reference 3, p. 393.
  5. M. W. Zemansky, Heat and Thermodynamics (McGraw-Hill Book Company, Inc., New York, 1951), 3rd ed. p. 192.

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