A simple, inexpensive photoelastic modulator

Kyle J. Braun, Christian R. Lytle, James A. Kavanaugh, James A. Thielen, Adam S. Green

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Scopus citations


A block of birefringent gelatin acts as a variable retarder when driven harmonically by a speaker coil and can be used to vary the polarization of a laser beam sinusoidally. We model this effect with Mueller matrices and show that the gelatin behaves much like a commercial photoelastic modulator and is suitable for a variety of polarimetry experiments in an advanced undergraduate optics course.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)13-19
Number of pages7
JournalAmerican Journal of Physics
Issue number1
StatePublished - 2009


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