Characterizing polarization controllers with Mueller matrix polarimetry

Jonathan Drewes, Russell Chipman, Matthew Smith

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

5 Scopus citations


A system for characterizing polarization controllers and other fiber components with Mueller matrices is presented. Most polarization controllers, such as lithium niobate modulators or PLZT electro-optical modulators, exhibit a wide range of polarization behaviours at constant drive voltage including elliptical retardance, polarization dependant loss (PDL), and depolarization (coupling of polarized light into an unpolarized exiting component). Specifying the half wave voltage for such devices describes their desired characteristic, an electrically addressable retardance, but not the undesired characteristics. Devices with complex polarization behaviours require a similarly comprehensive description of their polarization effects. We present example measurements that demonstrate how the Mueller matrix as a function of voltage provides a complete description of the desired retardance and the undesired PDL. Such polarization controller Mueller matrices can be multiplied with Mueller matrices for other photonic components to quantify how component polarizations interact.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)462-466
Number of pages5
JournalProceedings of SPIE - The International Society for Optical Engineering
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jul 30 2001


  • Fiber optic
  • Fiber squeezer
  • Insertion loss
  • PDL
  • PMD
  • Polarimetry
  • Polarization controller
  • Retardance

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Electronic, Optical and Magnetic Materials
  • Condensed Matter Physics
  • Computer Science Applications
  • Applied Mathematics
  • Electrical and Electronic Engineering


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