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A system and method for polarization measurement

Technology Number: 


Principal Investigator



Physics of Complex Systems

Patent Status: 

Granted US 8797532

A beam of light has several properties which can be measured for a variety of applications. The most commonly measured properties of light include Intensity, Color, Phase, and Polarization.In recent years there has been a growing demand to have well-defined optical beams. In order to accomplish this a light beam requires fast, accurate, and simple measurement techniques to fully characterize it’s properties.Currently, the ability to measure light polarization exists only qualitatively and at only one specific point in a light beam. Our scientific team has developed a new method to measure changing light polarizations in real-time. 
Our demonstrated system presents a simple way to continuously measure and quantify light polarizations in real-time, throughout the entire length of a light beam. This method has the potential to set a new industry standard, and could lead to a number of applications that were previously not possible.


  • Molecular imaging
  • Medical and industrial lasers
  • Non-destructive testing
  • Analytical chemistry
  • Fiber-optic communications
  • Cryptography
  • Astronomy


  • Proved accuracy
  • Simple technique
  • Compact configuration
  • Incorporate into existing equipment
  • Can measure fully polarized, partially polarized, and un-polarized light
  • Two modes of operation:   Space-variant polarization measurements and Wavelength-variant polarization measurements

Technology's Essence

Our polarization measurement technique is based on splitting an input light beam into six parallel beams, each having a predetermined shift in the polarization state with respect to the other beams. The beam components are simultaneously detected using a pixel matrix, such as a CCD camera, to determine their intensity distribution. From this, the polarization state distribution along the cross-section of the input optical beam is determined and we can calculate the Stokes parameters, a set of values which defines polarized light. This allows us to characterize and quantify fully polarized, partially polarized, and un-polarized light at every point in the beam in real-time, with either static or dynamic polarization states. Our method can be applied for two conditions of varying polarizations – changing with position (space-variant) or changing in color (wavelength-variant).

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