If I have a laser source that is 90-95% linearly polarized will the other 5-10% be transmitted through a half wave-plate? Will the exiting beam be 100% polarized in the same direction? From my understanding both will just be rotated half a wave (pi/2), but won't be perfectly lined up. Thanks for any help.

  • A $\lambda/2$-wave plate merely rotates the field direction. It's not a polarizer.
  • A wave of arbitrary polarization (linear, circular, elliptical) can be decomposed into two linear polarized waves by projection onto the $x$ and $y$ axis (assuming that the wave propagates along $z$). Hence, the different polarizations differ "only" in how the two amplitudes $A_x, A_y$ change with time. Any wave plate ($\lambda/4$, $\lambda/2$) will act on each component separately. Hence, you won't be able to "align" different polarization.
  • In order to get a purely polarized wave you should throw aways the "wrongly" polarized wave by using a polarizer.
| cite | improve this answer | |

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.