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Opt Lett. 2009 May 1;34(9):1447-9.

Correlation matrices of completely unpolarized beams.

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Dipartimento di Fisica, Università degli Studi "Roma Tre" and Consorzio Nazionale Interuniversitario per le Scienze Fisiche della Materia (CNISM), Via della Vasca Navale 84, I00146 Rome, Italy.


The simplest form for the correlation matrix of a completely unpolarized electromagnetic beam is the product of a scalar correlation function times a unit matrix. We show, however, that classes of unpolarized beams exist for which the diagonal elements of the correlation matrix are not equal to each other and the off-diagonal elements do not vanish identically. This gives rise to a distinction between pure and impure unpolarized beams. The two types of beams can be distinguished at the experimental level by their behavior in a Young's interferometer.

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