Jump to ContentJump to Main Navigation
The Optics of LifeA Biologist's Guide to Light in Nature$
Users without a subscription are not able to see the full content.

Sönke Johnsen

Print publication date: 2011

Print ISBN-13: 9780691139906

Published to Princeton Scholarship Online: October 2017

DOI: 10.23943/princeton/9780691139906.001.0001

Show Summary Details
Page of

PRINTED FROM PRINCETON SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (www.princeton.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright Princeton University Press, 2021. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in PRSO for personal use.date: 06 March 2021



(p.203) Chapter Eight Polarization
The Optics of Life

Sönke Johnsen

Princeton University Press

This chapter examines polarization. As with radiometry, polarization can be a confusing topic. Unfortunately, unlike radiometry, its complexity is not primarily due to confusing units. The physics of polarized light is genuinely tricky. This is another subfield of optics that is made easier by thinking of light as a wave. Polarized light in nature is a scattering phenomenon. However, not all scattering is equally effective at polarizing light. Two kinds work best. The first is single scattering by particles much smaller than a wavelength of light. The other way in which scattering can create polarized light is via coherent scattering—in particular, reflection from smooth substances such as glass, water, and many leaves or structurally colored objects like iridescent butterfly wings.

Keywords:   polarization, polarized light, scattering, single scattering, coherent scattering, reflection

Princeton Scholarship Online requires a subscription or purchase to access the full text of books within the service. Public users can however freely search the site and view the abstracts and keywords for each book and chapter.

Please, subscribe or login to access full text content.

If you think you should have access to this title, please contact your librarian.

To troubleshoot, please check our FAQs , and if you can't find the answer there, please contact us.