Polarization imaging and insect vision

Adam S. Green, Paul R. Ohmann, Nick E. Leininger, James A. Kavanaugh

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

3 Scopus citations


For several years we have included discussions about insect vision in the optics units of our introductory physics courses. This topic is a natural extension of demonstrations involving Brewster's reflection and Rayleigh scattering of polarized light because many insects heavily rely on optical polarization for navigation and communication. Students, especially those majoring in the life sciences, tend to find the conversation intriguing because of its interdisciplinary context. To make it even more appealing, we recently created a laboratory component that allows students to use digital cameras and polarizing filters to create polarization maps of environmental scenes and insect bodies. In this paper we describe how to do so with ImageJ, a widely used and freely available image processing program that is suitable for students with no programming experience.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)17-20
Number of pages4
JournalPhysics Teacher
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 2010
Externally publishedYes

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    Green, A. S., Ohmann, P. R., Leininger, N. E., & Kavanaugh, J. A. (2010). Polarization imaging and insect vision. Physics Teacher, 48(1), 17-20. https://doi.org/10.1119/1.3274352