Under this heading we discuss electromagnetic theory of light, polarization, birefringence, harmonic generation, electro- and acousto-optics, and related topics. Light consists of time-varying electric and magnetic fields. These fields are vectors, and their directions are almost always perpendicular to the direction of propagation of the light. When the electric-field vector E of a light wave lies in one plane only, the light is said to be plane-polarized. The magnetic-field vector H is then perpendicular to both the direction of propagation and the electric-field vector, as shown in Fig. 9.1. Because the fields propagate together and maintain a constant 90° phase difference with one another, it is usually sufficient to describe the wave with either the electric vector or the magnetic vector. It is conventional to choose the electric vector, largely because the interaction of matter with the electric field is stronger than that with the magnetic field. Therefore, the wave shown in Fig. 9.1 is said to be vertically polarized because the electric-field vector lies in a vertical plane. Unfortunately, in classical optics, the plane of polarization is defined perpendicular to the electric-field vector. We shall use electric-field vector throughout.
KeywordsOptic Axis Nematic Liquid Crystal Electric Vector Pockels Cell Ferroelectric Liquid Crystal
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