Related topics: light

Phonons can be chiral: Study claims to settle the debate

Findings published in Nature settle the dispute: phonons can be chiral. This fundamental concept, discovered using circular X-ray light, sees phonons twisting like a corkscrew through quartz.

Study: 'Warm ice age' changed climate cycles

Approximately 700,000 years ago, a "warm ice age" permanently changed the climate cycles on Earth. Contemporaneous with this exceptionally warm and moist period, the polar glaciers greatly expanded. A European research team ...

Polychromatic full-polarization control in mid-infrared light

Mid-wavelength infrared (MWIR) as one of the most important transparent atmosphere windows is less sensitive to interference from the background emission of the sun, providing a high-transmission zone for the finger-print ...

Thirsty on the moon? Just throw some regolith in the microwave

No matter where we go in the universe, we're going to need water. Thus far, human missions to Earth orbit and the moon have taken water with them. But while that works for short missions, it isn't practical in the long term. ...

CryoSat reveals ice loss from glaciers

When one thinks of the damage that climate change is doing, it's probable that what comes to mind is a vision of huge lumps of ice dropping off one of the polar ice sheets and crashing into the ocean. While Greenland and ...

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Polarization (also polarisation) is a property of waves that describes the orientation of their oscillations. This article primarily covers the polarization of electromagnetic waves such as light, although other types of wave also exhibit polarization.

By convention, the polarization of light is described by specifying the direction of the wave's electric field. When light travels in free space, in most cases it propagates as a transverse wave—the polarization is perpendicular to the wave's direction of travel. In this case, the electric field may be oriented in a single direction (linear polarization), or it may rotate as the wave travels (circular or elliptical polarization). In the latter cases, the oscillations can rotate rightward or leftward in the direction of travel, and which of those two rotations is present in a wave is called the wave's chirality or handedness. In general the polarization of an electromagnetic (EM) wave is a complex issue. For instance in a waveguide such as an optical fiber, or for radially polarized beams in free space, the description of the wave's polarization is more complicated, as the fields can have longitudinal as well as transverse components. Such EM waves are either TM or hybrid modes.

For longitudinal waves such as sound waves in fluids, the direction of oscillation is by definition along the direction of travel, so there is no polarization. In a solid medium, however, sound waves can be transverse. In this case, the polarization is associated with the direction of the shear stress in the plane perpendicular to the propagation direction. This is important in seismology.

Polarization is significant in areas of science and technology dealing with wave propagation, such as optics, seismology, telecommunications and radar science. The polarization of light can be measured with a polarimeter.

This text uses material from Wikipedia, licensed under CC BY-SA