The trajectory of the polarization state of a monochromatic light beam after it passes through a fixed linear polarizer and a rotating linear retarder of arbitrary retardance Δ is determined on the Poincaré sphere. The three-dimensional figure-8 contour is shown to be the line of intersection of a right-circular cylinder with the sphere. The cylinder is parallel to the polar (s<sub>3</sub>) axis, touches the sphere at the equator (at the point that represents the linear polarization transmitted by the fixed polarizer), and has a radius r=sin<sup>2</sup>(Δ/2). Projections of the trajectory in the coordinate planes of the normalized Stokes parameter space (s<sub>1</sub>, s<sub>2</sub>, s<sub>3</sub>) are also determined.
© 2000 Optical Society of America
(120.2130) Instrumentation, measurement, and metrology : Ellipsometry and polarimetry
(120.4640) Instrumentation, measurement, and metrology : Optical instruments
(230.0230) Optical devices : Optical devices
(260.5430) Physical optics : Polarization
R. M. A. Azzam, "Poincaré sphere representation of the fixed-polarizer rotating-retarder optical system," J. Opt. Soc. Am. A 17, 2105-2107 (2000)