Simple, adjustable beam splitting element for differential interferometers based on photoelastic birefringence of a prismatic bar

Sanderson, S. R.
November 2005
Review of Scientific Instruments;Nov2005, Vol. 76 Issue 11, p113703
Academic Journal
We examine the prototypical Toepler optical arrangement for the visualization of phase objects and consider the effect of different contrast elements placed at the focus of the source. In particular, Wollaston prism beam splitting elements based on the crystallographic birefringence of calcite or quartz find application in differential interferometry systems based on the Toepler arrangement. The focus of the current article is a simple low cost alternative to the Wollaston prism that is realized by inserting a prismatic bar constructed of a photoelastic material into the optical path. It is shown that, under the action of an applied bending moment, the prismatic bar functions as a first-order approximation to a Wollaston prism. Results are derived for the divergence angle of the beam splitter for orthogonally polarized rays. The implementation of a practical device is discussed and representative experimental results are presented, taken from the field of shock wave visualization in supersonic flow.


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