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Applications of Polarization
2012-07-28 09:43:53
Polarization has a wealth of other applications besides their use in glare-reducing sunglasses. In industry, Polaroid filters are used to perform stress analysis tests on transparent plastics. As light passes through a plastic, each color of visible light is polarized with its own orientation. If such a plastic is placed between two polarizing plates, a colorful pattern is revealed. As the top plate is turned, the color pattern changes as new colors become blocked and the formerly blocked colors are transmitted. A common Physics demonstration involves placing a plastic protractor between two Polaroid plates and placing them on top of an overhead projector. It is known that structural stress in plastic is signified at locations where there is a large concentration of colored bands. This location of stress is usually the location where structural failure will most likely occur. Perhaps you wish that a more careful stress analysis was performed on the plastic case of the CD which you recently purchased.
 
Polarization is also used in the entertainment industry to produce and show 3-D movies. Three-dimensional movies are actually two movies being shown at the same time through two projectors. The two movies are filmed from two slightly different camera locations. Each individual movie is then projected from different sides of the audience onto a metal screen. The movies are projected through a polarizing filter. The polarizing filter used for the projector on the left may have its polarization axis aligned horizontally while the polarizing filter used for the projector on the right would have its polarization axis aligned vertically. Consequently, there are two slightly different movies being projected onto a screen. Each movie is cast by light which is polarized with an orientation perpendicular to the other movie. The audience then wears glasses which have two Polaroid filters. Each filter has a different polarization axis - one is horizontal and the other is vertical. The result of this arrangement of projectors and filters is that the left eye sees the movie which is projected from the right projector while the right eye sees the movie which is projected from the left projector. This gives the viewer a perception of depth.
 
Our model of the polarization of light provides some substantial support for the wavelike nature of light. It would be extremely difficult to explain polarization phenomenon using a particle view of light. Polarization would only occur with a transverse wave. For this reason, polarization is one more reason why scientists believe that light exhibits wavelike behavior.

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