Engineering

Bioinspired camera could help self-driving cars see better

Inspired by the visual system of the mantis shrimp—among the most complex found in nature—researchers have created a new type of camera that could greatly improve the ability of cars to spot hazards in challenging imaging ...

Engineering

Shrimp-inspired camera may enable underwater navigation

The underwater environment may appear to the human eye as a dull-blue, featureless space. However, a vast landscape of polarization patterns appear when viewed through a camera that is designed to see the world through the ...

Semiconductors

Engineers develop powerful millimeter-wave signal generator

Your doctor waves a hand-held scanner over your body and gets detailed, high-resolution images of your internal organs and tissues. Using the same device, the physician then sends gigabytes of data instantly to a remote server ...

Polarization

Polarization (also polarisation) is a property of waves that describes the orientation of their oscillations. This article primarily covers the polarization of electromagnetic waves such as light, although other types of wave also exhibit polarization.

By convention, the polarization of light is described by specifying the direction of the wave's electric field. When light travels in free space, in most cases it propagates as a transverse wave—the polarization is perpendicular to the wave's direction of travel. In this case, the electric field may be oriented in a single direction (linear polarization), or it may rotate as the wave travels (circular or elliptical polarization). In the latter cases, the oscillations can rotate rightward or leftward in the direction of travel, and which of those two rotations is present in a wave is called the wave's chirality or handedness. In general the polarization of an electromagnetic (EM) wave is a complex issue. For instance in a waveguide such as an optical fiber, or for radially polarized beams in free space, the description of the wave's polarization is more complicated, as the fields can have longitudinal as well as transverse components. Such EM waves are either TM or hybrid modes.

For longitudinal waves such as sound waves in fluids, the direction of oscillation is by definition along the direction of travel, so there is no polarization. In a solid medium, however, sound waves can be transverse. In this case, the polarization is associated with the direction of the shear stress in the plane perpendicular to the propagation direction. This is important in seismology.

Polarization is significant in areas of science and technology dealing with wave propagation, such as optics, seismology, telecommunications and radar science. The polarization of light can be measured with a polarimeter.

This text uses material from Wikipedia, licensed under CC BY-SA