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Beam propagation in anizotropic crystals

Optic axis of a crystal is the direction in which a ray of transmitted

light suffers no birefringence (double refraction). Light propagates
along that axis with a speed independent of its polarization

However, if the light beam is not parallel to the optical axis, then,
when passing through the crystal the beam is split into two rays: the
ordinary and extraordinary, to be mutually perpendicular polarized.

A crystal which has only one optic axis is called uniaxial crystal. An uniaxial
crystal is isotropic within the plane orthogonal to the optical axis of the crystal.
A crystal which has only two optic axis is called biaxial crystal.
The refractive index of the ordinary ray is constant for any direction in the
crystal, and of the extraordinary ray is variable and depends on the direction.
In a uniaxial crystal for the direction parallel to the optical axis the refractive
indices are equal.

Positive Negative
birefringence birefringence

BBO is negative uniaxial crystal

Fast Axis
Direction having a low refractive index is the fast axis; at right angles to it is
the slow axis, with a high index of refraction.
Type I cut

kp =ks +ki
fors = p/2

For collinear down-conversion the index

of refraction at wavelengths differing by a
factor of two must be equal. For isotropic
material it is impossible, but by using Index of refraction of BBO (negative
birefringent material we can achieve this uniaxial crystal): blue solid curve: ordinary
condition via the different indices of polarization; red/dash-dot curve: full
refraction of orthogonal linear extraordinary polarization; green/dash
polarizations. curve: extraordinary polarization at the
phase matching angle (29o)
Calculating Characteristics of Noncollinear Phase Matching
in Uniaxial and Biaxial Crystals
N. Boeuf, D. Branning, I. Chaperot, E. Dauler, S. Gurin, G. Jaeger, A. Muller, A. Migdall
Originally published in: Opt. Eng. 39(4), 1016-1024 (April 2000).
Polarization of light
Malus' law, which is named after Etienne-Louis Malus(1775
1812) , says that when a perfect polarizer is placed in a polarized
beam of light, the intensity, I, of the light that passes through is
given by

I0 is the initial intensity, and i is the angle between the light's
initial polarization direction and the axis of the polarizer.

His discovery of the polarisation of light by reflection was

published in 1809 and his theory of double refraction of light in
crystals, in 1810.

A retarder, or waveplate, is an optical device that resolves a light wave

into two orthogonal linear polarization components and produces a
phase shift between them. The resulting light wave generally is of a
different polarization form.

Ideally, retarders do not polarize, nor do they induce an intensity

change in the light beam. They simply change its polarization form.
Retarders are used in applications where control or analysis of
polarization states is required.
Half wave plate
A retarder that produces a /2 phase shift is known as a half wave
retarder. Half wave retarders can rotate the polarization of linearly
polarized light to twice the angle between the retarder fast axis and the
plane of polarization.

Placing the fast axis of a half wave retarder at 45 to the polarization

plane results in a polarization rotation of 90. Passing circularly polarized
light through a half wave plate changes the "handedness" of the
Quarter waveplate
If the orthogonal electric field components are equivalent, a phase
shift /4 in one component will result in circularly polarized light.
Retarders that cause this shift are known as quarter wave retarders.
They have the unique property of turning elliptically polarized light into
linearly polarized light or of transforming linearly polarized light into
circularly polarized light when the fast axis of the quarter wave plate at
45 to the incoming polarization plane. (Light polarized along the
direction with the smaller index travels faster and thus this axis is
termed the fast axis. The other axis is the slow axis).