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Does polarization affect the results of the 2-slit experiment

  1. Sep 1, 2008 #1


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    The wavelength of the light and the width of the distance between the slits affects the pattern of the two slit experiment. My question is: Does the polarization of the light (vertical, horizontal or circular) affect the pattern of the two slit experiment.

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  3. Sep 2, 2008 #2


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    No, normally not, as long as there aren't any anisotropic (birefringent) materials in the paths.
  4. Sep 2, 2008 #3

    Andy Resnick

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    The 2-slit experiment requires that the incoming wavefront be spatially coherent; the polarization state of the light just prior to each slit should be identical. The transmission of each slit may have a polarization dependence, so that can affect the overall brightness of the pattern, but it should not affect the pattern in any meaningful way.

    Adding, for example, a quarter-wave plate prior to one slit will change the fringe amplitude, because by rotating the plate I change the polarization state of one arm of the interferometer.
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