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Interactive Tutorials

Brewster's Angle

This tutorial demonstrates the polarization effect on light reflected from a transparent medium. To operate the applet, move the slider from low to high refractive index (RI) to change the angle and the amplitude of the reflected light.

where RI is the refractive index of the medium, q(i) is the angle of incidence (often referred to as the polarizing angle), and q(r) is the angle of refraction.

This type of polarization is usually called glare, seen often on highways during hot, sunny days. The roadway polarizes the light, allowing only light rays with electric field vectors parallel to the roadway to reflect off the surface. Polarized light from the roadway is easily blocked with polarizing filters arranged vertically, a principle that serves as the basis for the construction of polarized-lens sunglasses.

Contributing Authors

Mortimer Abramowitz - Olympus America, Inc., Two Corporate Center Drive., Melville, New York, 11747.

Matthew J. Parry-Hill and Michael W. Davidson - National High Magnetic Field Laboratory, 1800 East Paul Dirac Dr., The Florida State University, Tallahassee, Florida, 32310.


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