Observation of elliptically polarized light from total internal reflection in bubbles

Sawyer Miller, Yitian Ding, Linan Jiang, Xingzhou Tu, Stanley Pau

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Scopus citations


Bubbles are ubiquitous in the natural environment, where different substances and phases of the same substance forms globules due to differences in pressure and surface tension. Total internal reflection occurs at the interface of a bubble, where light travels from the higher refractive index material outside a bubble to the lower index material inside a bubble at appropriate angles of incidence, which can lead to a phase shift in the reflected light. Linearly polarized skylight can be converted to elliptically polarized light with efficiency up to 53% by single scattering from the water-air interface. Total internal reflection from air bubble in water is one of the few sources of elliptical polarization in the natural world. Stationary and dynamic scenes of air bubbles in water in both indoor and outdoor settings are studied using an imaging polarimeter. Our results are important for studies in fluid dynamics, remote sensing, and polarimetry.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number8725
JournalScientific reports
Issue number1
StatePublished - Dec 1 2020

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General


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