This experimental and theoretical exercise is designed to promote students' understanding of polarization and thin-film coatings for the practical case of a scanning protected-metal coated mirror. We present results obtained with a laboratory scanner and a polarimeter and propose an affordable and student-friendly experimental arrangement for the undergraduate laboratory. This experiment will allow students to apply basic knowledge of the polarization of light and thin-film coatings, develop hands-on skills with the use of phase retarders, apply the Fresnel equations for metallic coating with complex index of refraction, and compute the polarization state of the reflected light.

1.
Eugene
Hecht
,
Optics
, 4th ed. (
Addison-Wesley Longman, Inc.
,
New York
,
2002
), pp.
111
122
, pp. 325–331.
2.
Frank L.
Pedrotti
,
Leno M.
Pedrotti
, and
Leno S.
Pedrotti
,
Introduction to Optics
, 2nd ed. (
Prentice-Hall, Inc.
,
Englewood Cliffs, NJ
,
1993
), pp.
407
425
, pp. 325–331.
3.
S. D.
Mayor
,
S. M.
Spuler
,
B. M.
Morley
, and
E.
Loew
, “
Polarization lidar at 1.54-microns and observations of plumes from aerosol generators
,”
Opt. Eng.
46
(
9
),
096201
(
2007
).
4.
G. G.
Gimmestad
, “
Reexamination of depolarization in lidar measurements
,”
Appl. Opt.
47
(
21
),
3795
3802
(
2008
).
5.
L.
Garrison
,
Z.
Blaszczak
, and
A. E.
Green
, “
Polarization characteristics of an altazimuth sky scanner
,”
Appl. Opt.
19
(
9
),
1419
1424
(
1980
).
6.
G.
Anzolin
,
A.
Gardelein
,
M.
Jofre
,
G.
Molina-Terriza
, and
M. W.
Mitchell
, “
Polarization change induced by a galvanometric optical scanner
,”
JOSA A
27
(
9
),
1946
1952
(
2010
).
7.
M.
Hayman
,
S. M.
Spuler
,
B. M.
Morley
, and
J.
VanAndel
, “
Polarization lidar operation for measuring backscatter phase matrices of oriented scatterers
,”
Opt. Express
20
(
28
),
29553
29567
(
2012
).
8.
S.
Gimbal
,
Q.
Li
, and
A.
Petrova-Mayor
, “
Polarization effects induced by a two-mirror laser beam scanner
,” in
SPIE Proceedings, Vol. 8516, Remote sensing system engineering IV
(
2012
), p.
85160F-1
9
.
9.
Max
Born
and
Emil
Wolf
,
Principles of Optics: Electromagnetic Theory of Propagation, Interference and Diffraction of Light
, 7th (expanded) ed. (
Cambridge U. P.
,
Cambridge, UK
,
1999
), pp.
758
.
10.
M.
Hayman
and
J. P.
Thayer
, “
General description for polarization in lidar using Stokes vectors and polar decomposition of Mueller matrices
,”
JOSA A
29
(
4
),
400
409
(
2012
).
11.
L. R.
Bissonnette
,
G.
Roy
, and
F.
Fabry
, “
Range-height scans of lidar depolarization for characterizing properties and phase of clouds and precipitation
,”
J. Atmos. Oceanic. Technol.
18
(
9
),
1429
1446
(
2001
).
12.
Thorlabs PAX polarimeter, User Manual.
13.
Thorlabs, Inc., Home Page, <http://www.thorlabs.us/>.
14.
Index of Refraction Database, <http://refractiveindex.info/>.
15.
I. H.
Malitson
, “
Interspecimen comparison of the refractive index of fused silica
,”
JOSA
55
(
10
),
1205
1208
(
1965
).
16.
M. J.
Dodge
, “
Refractive properties of magnesium fluoride
,”
Appl. Opt.
23
(
12
),
1980
1985
(
1984
).
17.
A. D.
Rakić
, “
Algorithm for the determination of intrinsic optical constants of metal films: application to aluminum
,”
Appl. Opt.
34
(
22
),
4755
4767
(
1995
).
18.
A. D.
Rakić
,
A. B.
Djurišic
,
J. M.
Elazar
, and
M. L.
Majewski
, “
Optical properties of metallic films for vertical-cavity optoelectronic devices
,”
Appl. Opt.
37
,
5271
5283
(
1998
).
AAPT members receive access to the American Journal of Physics and The Physics Teacher as a member benefit. To learn more about this member benefit and becoming an AAPT member, visit the Joining AAPT page.