Polarization by Reflection

Since the reflection coefficient for light which has electric field parallel to the plane of incidence goes to zero at some angle between 0° and 90°, the reflected light at that angle is linearly polarized with its electric field vectors perpendicular to the plane of incidence and parallel to the plane of the surface from which it is reflecting. The angle at which this occurs is called the polarizing angle or the Brewster angle. At other angles the reflected light is partially polarized.

From Fresnel's equations it can be determined that the parallel reflection coefficient is zero when the incident and transmitted angles sum to 90°. The use of Snell's law gives an expression for the Brewster angle.

For light from a medium of index =
incident upon a medium of index =
= °
More detail on:Polarization by reflectionCalculation of partial polarization

Reflection concepts

Incident light behavior

Polarization concepts
HyperPhysics***** Light and Vision R Nave
Go Back