Electromagnetic and Polarization Effects

  • Matt Young
Part of the Springer Series in Optical Sciences book series (SSOS, volume 5)


Under this heading we discuss electromagnetic theory of light, polarization, birefringence, harmonic generation, electro- and acoustooptics, 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. 8.1. 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. 8.1 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.


Optic Axis Electric Vector Pockels Cell Incident Electric Field Pockels Effect 
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Suggested Reading Material

  1. Ditchburn, R.W.: Light, 2nd ed. (Wiley-Interscience, New York 1963) Chaps. 12–16MATHGoogle Scholar
  2. Jenkins, F.A., White, H.E.: Fundamentals of Optics, 4th ed. (McGraw-Hill, New York 1976) Chaps. 20, 24–28, 32Google Scholar
  3. Meltzer, R.J.: Polarization, in Applied Optics and Optical Engineering, Vol. 1 (Academic, New York 1965)Google Scholar
  4. Shen, Y.-R. (ed.): Nonlinear Infrared Generation, Topics Appl. Phys. Vol. 16 (Springer, Berlin, Heidelberg 1977)Google Scholar
  5. Terhune, R.W., Maker, P.D.: Nonlinear Optics, in Lasers, ed. by A.K. Levine, Vol. 2 (Dekker, New York 1968)Google Scholar
  6. Yariv, A.: Introduction to Optical Electronics (Holt, Rinehart and Winston, New York 1971) Chaps. 8, 9, 12Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 1984

Authors and Affiliations

  • Matt Young
    • 1
  1. 1.Electromagnetic Technology DivisionNational Bureau of StandardsBoulderUSA

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