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How to measure the Mueller matrix of liquid-crystal cells

Journal article
Authors Ingolf Dahl
Published in Meas. Sci. Technol.
Volume 12
Pages 1938-1948
ISSN 0957-0233
Publication year 2001
Published at Department of Physics (GU)
Pages 1938-1948
Language en
Links www.iop.org/EJ/article/0957-0233/12...
Keywords Mueller matrix, liquid crystal, ferroelectric, Stokes vector, polarization, spectrometer, spectrograph, xenon lamp, photodiode array, visible range, retardation plates
Subject categories Image analysis, Other information technology, Optics, Mathematical physics, Photonics, Functional materials

Abstract

The Mueller matrix is the transfer matrix in the Stokes algebra that describes the polarization of natural light. This matrix is very versatile for the task of characterizing the optical properties of liquid-crystal cells, since it can be used for comparison with theoretical calculations, the determination of material parameters and the modelling of the cell as an optical building block for technological use. We have constructed a Mueller-matrix spectrometer, with the ability to perform fast, dynamic measurements of the Mueller matrix of small areas of liquid-crystal cells throughout the visible range. To illustrate the potential of the instrument, dynamic measurements on a ferroelectric-liquid-crystal cell are presented and analysed. The optical measurements indicate that there is an asymmetry between the up and the down state, tilted smectic layers and polarization reversal initiated at the boundaries.

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