Polarization To talk about the polarization of an electromagnetic wave, it's easiest to look at polarized light. Just remember that whatever applies to light generally applies to other forms of electromagnetic waves, too. So, what is meant by polarized light? It's light in which there's a preferred direction for the electric and magnetic field vectors in the wave. In unpolarized light, there is no preferred direction: the waves come in with electric and magnetic field vectors in random directions. In linearly polarized light, the electric field vectors are all along one line (and so are the magnetic field vectors, because they're perpendicular to the electric field vectors). Most light sources emit unpolarized light, but there are several ways light can be polarized. One way to polarize light is by reflection. Light reflecting off a surface will tend to be polarized, with the direction of polarization (the way the electric field vectors point) being parallel to the plane of the interface. Another way to polarize light is by selectively absorbing light with electric field
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This note was uploaded on 11/22/2011 for the course PHY PHY2053 taught by Professor Davidjudd during the Fall '10 term at Broward College.