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Appl Opt. 2011 Nov 20;50(33):6272-6. doi: 10.1364/AO.50.006272.

Circular and near-circular polarization states of evanescent monochromatic light fields in total internal reflection.

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  • 1Department of Electrical Engineering, University of New Orleans, Louisiana 70148, USA.


Conditions for the production of near-circular polarization states of the evanescent field present in the rarer medium in total internal reflection of incident monochromatic p-polarized light at a dielectric-dielectric planar interface are determined. Such conditions are satisfied if high-index (>3.2) transparent prism materials (e.g., GaP and Ge) are used at angles of incidence well above the critical angle but sufficiently below grazing incidence. Furthermore, elliptical polarization of incident light with nonzero p and s components can be tailored to cause circular polarization of the resultant tangential electric field in the plane of the interface or circular polarization of the transverse electric field in a plane normal to the direction of propagation of the evanescent wave. Such polarization control of the evanescent field is significant, e.g., in the fluorescent excitation of molecules adsorbed at solid-liquid and solid-gas interfaces by total internal reflection.

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