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Course SC1247

Polarized Light and Optical Design

Monday, 24 January 2022 • 8:30 AM - 5:30 PM PST
Level: Intermediate
Member: $745.00
Non-member: $875.00
Student member: $425.00
Polarized Light and Optical Systems surveys polarization effects in optical systems and their simulation by polarization ray tracing. First polarized light is reviewed with Jones vector and Stokes parameter descriptions. Polarization elements and effects, including retardance and diattenuation, can be described by Jones matrices for coherent and ray tracing calculations, or with Mueller matrices for incoherent calculations. A framework for polarization ray tracing is presented for nearly spherical waves in optical systems to include the large set of polarization effects which occur: polarization elements, Fresnel equations, thin films, anisotropic materials, diffractive optical elements, stress birefringence, and thin films. These polarization aberrations adversely affect the point spread function/matrix and optical transfer function/matrix.

Learning Outcomes

  • explain fundamentals of polarized light and polarization elements in optical systems
  • explain Jones and Mueller calculus
  • describe polarized light propagating in 3D
  • classify Fresnel aberrations, thin films, and polarization aberrations
  • describe image formation with polarization aberrations
  • identify anisotropic materials, crystal polarizers and retarders
  • describe polarization of diffractive optical elements, gratings and wire grid polarizers
  • distinguish stress birefringence
  • identify polarization effects in liquid crystal cells
  • compare the polarization ray trace and polarization aberrations of a telescope


This is an intermediate level class is intended for educators, students, lens designers, optical engineers, scientists, and managers who need to understand and apply polarization concepts to optical systems. Prior exposure to optical design programs, polarization, and to linear algebra would be helpful.


Russell A. Chipman - Wyant College of Optical Sciences (United States)
Russell A. Chipman is Professor of Optical Sciences at the University of Arizona and a Visiting Professor at the Center for Optics Research and Education (CORE), Utsunomiya University, Japan. He founded Airy Optics Inc. which provides polarization analysis software. He teaches courses in polarized light, polarimetry, and polarization optical design at both Universities. Prof. Chipman received his BS in Physics from MIT and MS and Ph. D. in Optical Science from the University of Arizona. He is a Fellow of OSA and SPIE. He received SPIE’s 2007 G. G. Stokes award for research in Polarimetry and OSA’s Joseph Fraunhofer Award/Robert Burley Award for Optical Engineering in 2015. He is a Co-Investigator on NASA/JPL’s Multi-Angle Imager for Aerosols, a polarimeter scheduled for launch into earth orbit around 2021 for monitoring aerosols and pollution in metropolitan areas. He is also developing UV and IR polarimeters for other NASA exoplanet and remote sensing missions. He has recently focused on developing the Polaris-M polarization ray tracing code, available from Airy Optics, which analyzes optical systems with anisotropic materials, diffractive optical elements, stress birefringence, polarized scattered light, and many other effects.


RECOMMENDED text Polarized Light and Optical Systems (CRC Press, 2018) by Russell Chipman, Wai Sze Tiffany Lam, and Garam Young.

Additional notes

Attendee Testimonial:
The instructors did a remarkable job presenting material necessary to understand fundamental concepts and know where else to further knowledge.