PerspectiveOptics

Polarimetry enabled by nanophotonics

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Science  16 Nov 2018:
Vol. 362, Issue 6416, pp. 750-751
DOI: 10.1126/science.aau7494

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Summary

Light beams consist of oscillatory electric (and magnetic) fields having a certain amplitude, phase, and frequency. In transverse waves, the state of polarization (SoP) characterizes how the electric field oscillates in the plane perpendicular to the propagation direction. Light-matter interactions strongly depend on the SoP, so its complete measurement is of paramount importance in a wide array of disciplines including chemistry, imaging, optical communications, and astronomy. However, measuring the SoP of a light beam, the main goal of polarimetry, is much trickier than knowing its intensity or frequency, because it involves the simultaneous measurement of the four Stokes parameters, which even account for the case of unpolarized light.