Mueller matrix imaging polarimetry: An overview

Russell A. Chipman, Elizabeth A. Sornsin, J. Larry Pezzaniti

Research output: Contribution to journalConference articlepeer-review

15 Scopus citations


The design and operation of a Mueller matrix imaging polarimeter (MMIP) are presented. The instrument is configurable to operate in transmission, reflection, retroreflection, and variable-angle scattering to make a wide variety of polarimetric measurements. The sample may be a single element such as a lens, polarizer, retarder, spatial light modulator, or beamsplitter; the tested sample may also be an entire polarization-critical optical system containing many elements. The MMIP instrument combines a dual-rotating retarder polarimeter with high-resolution imaging capacity. Well-calibrated known polarized light states are incident upon the sample and the exiting state is precisely analyzed. By measuring a series of different generated and analyzed states, the Mueller matrix can be determined. "Decomposing" the measured Mueller matrix into retardance, diattenuation, and depolarization components can give a complete description of the sample's effect on an arbitrary light state. In one system configuration, the MMIP measures the polarization of a set of ray paths through a sample. Another configuration measures the sample's point spread matrix, a Mueller matrix relating the polarization state of a point object to the distribution of intensity and polarization across the image. The MMIP instrument and measurement capabilities are described along with an assortment of previous results.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)5-12
Number of pages8
JournalProceedings of SPIE - The International Society for Optical Engineering
StatePublished - Aug 16 1996
EventInternational Symposium on Polarization Analysis and Applications to Device Technology 1996 - Yokohama, Japan
Duration: Jun 12 1996Jun 14 1996


  • Imaging polarimetry
  • Mueller matrix
  • Polarimetry
  • Polarization
  • Polarization aberrations

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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