6H20.10 - Polarization - Brewster's Angle

Code Number:
Demo Title:
Polarization - Brewster's Angle
Polarization by Reflection
Area of Study:
Optics, E & M
6 Volt Projector and Transformer, Smoked Glass Plate, Front Surface Mirror, Polaroid's, Protractor, and Black Cloth.

Place the lamp so that is strikes the smoked glass at an angle of approximately 56 degrees from the normal. The reflected part of the ray will now be polarized, which can be shown by shutting the ray on and off with one of the polarizing plates. Place the mirror on top of the smoked glass plate. Since the reflected ray now contains both directions of polarization you will be unable to shut the beam off with a Polarizer.

NOTE: An unpolarized laser will also work in place of the projector lamp.

You can show polarization by reflection using a laser and a plate of glass. Place the glass in the beam of the laser at the Brewster's angle. Place a polarizer in the beam of the reflected light and by rotating the polarizer you will be able to turn the reflected beam on or off.

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  • Brian Jones and Matt Fackelman, "Brewster Box", Don't Forget the Duct Tape, p. 13 - 16.

Disclaimer: These demonstrations are provided only for illustrative use by persons affiliated with The University of Iowa and only under the direction of a trained instructor or physicist.  The University of Iowa is not responsible for demonstrations performed by those using their own equipment or who choose to use this reference material for their own purpose.  The demonstrations included here are within the public domain and can be found in materials contained in libraries, bookstores, and through electronic sources.  Performing all or any portion of any of these demonstrations, with or without revisions not depicted here entails inherent risks.  These risks include, without limitation, bodily injury (and possibly death), including risks to health that may be temporary or permanent and that may exacerbate a pre-existing medical condition; and property loss or damage.  Anyone performing any part of these demonstrations, even with revisions, knowingly and voluntarily assumes all risks associated with them.