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Does polarization change upon reflection?

  1. Apr 27, 2014 #1
    A simple question:
    is the polarization of light affected in any way upon reflection? What about upon refraction/diffraction? What interactions affect polarization?
  2. jcsd
  3. Apr 28, 2014 #2
    The polarization of light can be modified through the diffraction of light. A beam of light passing through certain types of crystals, like double refracting crystals, can produce light of different polarizations because they offer a uniform diffraction scheme thanks to the internal geometry of the crystals atomic structure itself. In an ordinary mirror there would not be a change in light polarization.
  4. Apr 28, 2014 #3
    Light polarization is constitutive of a linear model and a helical polarization whereby linear include transverse and longitudinal I believe. If you were looking through a pair of polarized sun glasses you could picture a series of slits etched across the lens that allow only a light ray of a certain orientation to pass through. In an ordinary room there are incident light rays going all around the room in countless random directions.
  5. Apr 28, 2014 #4
    I was wondering if a reflection from an ordinary mirror has any effects on polarization. Any references would be appreciated.
  6. Apr 28, 2014 #5


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    As an aside the above is ultimately derived from the classical Maxwell equations so quantum mechanics isn't really relevant to the discussion (I only mention this because you posted this in the QM section).
  7. Apr 28, 2014 #6
    Thanks! This is exactly what i was looking for. Does anyone know how Brewster is treated in QED formalism? A reference or link will suffice.
    Tks in advance
  8. Apr 28, 2014 #7

    Meir Achuz

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    The problem with that Wiki is that it only considers one famous angle. Light is polarized by reflection or refraction or scattering at any angle. It is discussed in most general physics, electromagnetism, or optics textbooks.
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