OPTI 586

Polarization in Optical Design

Polarization in Optical Design (3). Principals of the calculation of polarization effects in optical systems; Geometrical optics; Polarization ray tracing. Polarization aberration function. Examples of polarization aberrations. P. OPTI 502.

Meeting Times:

Lecture: Mondays and Wednesdays 8:00 to 9:15 am | Room 305


Professor Russell A. Chipman
Optical Sciences Room 737
The University of Arizona
1630 East University Boulevard Meinel Building
Tucson, AZ 85721
Phone: (520) 626-9435 Fax: (520) 626-4599

Course Outline:

  • Polarization Effects at Reflecting and Refracting Interfaces. Fresnel equations. Multilayer film polarization.
  • Polarized Light. Jones vectors and matrices. Diattenuation. Retardance. Birefringence. Dichroism. 3D polarization ray tracing calculus.
  • Geometrical Optics and Optical Design. Ray tracing. Aberrations. Wavefront aberration function. Point spread function. Modulation transfer function.
  • Polarization Ray Tracing. Cascading polarization effects through systems. Polarization aberration function.
  • Polarization Aberrations. Imaging polarimetry of optical systems. Second order polarization aberrations. Polarization point spread function. Polarization optical transfer function. Appearance of polarization aberrations in polariscopes.
  • Polarization Aberrations Examples. Uncoated lens. Microscope objective. Combinations of folding mirrors. Cassegrain telescope. Fresnel rhomb. Corner cubes. Liquid crystal cells.
  • Polarization Models. Anisotropic materials and interfaces. Birefringent ray tracing. Biaxial multilayer films. Rigorous coupled wave analysis.
  • Realistic Polarization Elements. Wavelength and angle of incidence dependence. Waveplates. Crystal and dichroic polarizers. Biaxial multilayer films. Liquid crystal cells. Diffraction grating polarization.

Class treats the principals of the calculation of polarization effects when light propagates through optical systems and the interpretation of the resulting polarization aberrations. Use of Mathematica is required. Relevant Mathematica code will be distributed or made available over the web. Students are highly encouraged to register for the associated one unit Polarization in Optical Design Lab. Neither class requires the use of commercial polarization ray tracing software.


  • Homework 40%
  • No Midterm 0%
  • Project 25%
  • In-class final exam 35%


Marnsuripur, M. Classical Optics and Its Applications, 2nd Edition. Cambridge University Press. ISBN 978-0-521-88169-2

Suggested reference works on polarization (not required)

  • J. Damask, Polarization Optics in Telecommunications, (Springer, 2005)
  • C. Brosseau, Fundamentals of Polarized Light, (Wiley, 1998)
  • D. Goldstein, Polarized Light, Second Edition, (Dekker, 2003)
  • D. Kliger, J. Lewis, C. Randall, Polarized Light in Optics and Spectroscopy (1990).
  • R.M.A. Azzam, and N. M. Bashara, Ellipsometry and Polarized Light, 1st ed. (North-Holland, Amsterdam, 1977), 2d ed. (North-Holland, Amsterdam, 1987).
  • P. Yeh and C. Gu, Optics of Liquid Crystal Displays, John Wiley & Sons, 1999.

Academic Integrity

According to the Arizona Code of Academic Integrity, “Integrity is expected of every student in all academic work. The guiding principle of academic integrity is that a student’s submitted work must be the student’s own.” Unless otherwise noted by the instructor, work for all assignments in this course must be conducted independently by each student. Co-authored work of any kind is unacceptable. Misappropriation of exams before or after they are given will be considered academics misconduct.

Misconduct of any kind will be prosecuted and may result in any or all of the following:

  • Reduction of grade
  • Failing grade
  • Referral to the Dean of Students for consideration of additional penalty, i.e., notation on a student’s transcript re: academic integrity violation, etc.

Students with Learning Disabilities

If a student is registered with the Disability Resource Center, he/she must submit appropriate documentation to the instructor if he/she is requesting reasonable accommodations.

The information contained in this syllabus may be subject to change with reasonable advance notice, as deemed appropriate by the instructor.