Stokes-parameter analysis of the polarization of light transmitted through a chiral nematic liquid-crystal cell

Kai L. Woon, Mary O'Neill, Gary J. Richards, Matthew P. Aldred, Stephen M. Kelly

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

9 Citations (Scopus)


A spectroscopic Stokes polarimeter is used to directly measure the linearly, circularly, and randomly polarized components of light obtained on transmission of unpolarized light through thick chiral nematic liquid-crystal cells in the stop band. The Stokes parameters are simulated to fit the experimental data by use of the Berreman 4 × 4 transfer matrix by means of the Jones and Stokes vectors and taking into account multiple reflections at the interfaces of the cell. Excellent agreement is obtained. The transmitted light through a commercial cell is mainly circularly polarized at normal incidence, but a significant linearly polarized component is also observed. The model shows that this results from refractive-index mismatching at the liquid-crystal-alignment-layer interface, but a small linearly polarized component remains even with optimized index matching. An improved device configuration incorporating random defects at the exit boundary of the liquid crystal gives a highly circularly polarized output with virtually no linear or unpolarized components.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)760-766
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of the Optical Society of America A: Optics and Image Science, and Vision
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 2005 Apr
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Electronic, Optical and Magnetic Materials
  • Atomic and Molecular Physics, and Optics
  • Computer Vision and Pattern Recognition


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