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Randomly polarized light

  1. Dec 17, 2011 #1

    We can represent natural unpolarized light as a sum of two orthogonal, linearly polarized components with a randomly fluctuating phase difference. Is it correct to say that this is equivalent to representing it as elliptic light, where the ellipticity fluctuates randomly in time?

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  3. Dec 17, 2011 #2

    Andy Resnick

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    Interesting. I suppose you could, since the electric field vector can be decomposed into two orthogonal elliptical states. You would have to allow not only the ellipticity but also the tilt angle to fluctuate- why the extra complication?
  4. Dec 17, 2011 #3
    I was just wondering, no specific reason. But I don't agree with you, when you say the tilt angle has to change as well. When I look at E traversing an ellipse, which has a randomly fluctuating ellipticity ratio -- then that looks like randomly polarized light to me. No need for the angle to change as well.
  5. Dec 17, 2011 #4


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    Even if the ellipticity changes randomly, if the orientation angle of the ellipse is fixed then it is not completely random. (If I correctly understand what you are saying.)
  6. Dec 17, 2011 #5
    I see your points, thanks for helping!

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