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In the EM course, we suddenly went from linear, circular and elliptical polarization to perpendicular and parallel polarization. What is the connection between these concepts and when it is appropriate to address one kind of polarization versus another?

In addition, what is meant by "y-polarization"?

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Perpendicular and parallel polarisation usually refer to linear polarisation of the E-field direction with respect to an interface between two media. Specifically, parallel refers to parallel to the plane of incidence - that plane containing a normal to the interface and the k-vector of the wave.

Perpendicular polarisation means polarisation perpendicular to the plane of incidence.

I can only assume that y polarisation means linear polarisation parallel to the y axis.

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