Application software for teaching the polarization ellipse

Camilo Cano*, Santiago Echeverri, Carlos Cuartas-Vélez, Luciano Angel, René Restrepo

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articleResearchpeer-review

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This paper describes the development of a computational application that calculates the configuration of a polarization state generator, according to the parameters of a desired polarization ellipse. The most general way to describe the polarization state of light is an ellipse, however, it is rarely used in practical courses in which applications are limited to the case of linear or circular polarization. To generate a desired polarization ellipse, a polarizer and a pair of retarders of λ/2 and λ/4 can be used, the problem is to determine the angle of rotation of the retarders. We present an open source algorithm to calculate these angles by using a minimization method applied to the Jones calculus description of polarizing elements. This development aims to help research and education activities to promote a more practical understanding of the polarimetric properties of light.
Original languageEnglish
Article number50307
JournalOptica Pura y Aplicada
Issue number3
Number of pages9
Publication statusPublished - 2018


  • Polarization ellipse
  • Jones calculus
  • Minimization

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