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Polarization confusion

  1. Jun 9, 2007 #1
    Can anyone clearly say what is the difference between plane of polarization and plane of vibration?
    I know what is the latter.It is the plane containig E and k vectors.But Regarding the first one I am a bit confused:Different literatures treat them differently...Sometimes it appears that they are the same and sometimes it appears that it is perpendicular to the direction of k.That is the plane where the E field appears linear/circular/elliptical.
  2. jcsd
  3. Jun 12, 2007 #2

    Claude Bile

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    Science Advisor

    The plane of polarisation is the plane defined by E and k.

    I think the confusion here stems from the fact that it is possible to polarisation to vary as a function of position, for example fibre-optic modes are typically radially (E pointing radially outward) and tangentially polarised. In these cases, the plane of polarisation will also vary as a function of position, thus it can be somewhat of a hindrance describing the polarisation of such modes using planes. A better way to show the polarisation of the mode is to plot the polarisation as a function of position, which is why you see plenty of graphs with coordinate planes that are perpendicular to k. I don't agree though that this is the plane where E appears linear/circular/elliptical though - E can only be shown to rotate using a 3D graph or some other parametric space, not in a cartesian plane.

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