Polarization is an intrinsic property of light, like frequency or coherence. Humans have long benefited from our ability to distinguish light of different frequency based on its color. However, our eyes are not sensitive to the polarization of light. Devices to measure polarization are relatively rare and expertise in polarimetry even more so. Polarization sensors based on micropolarizer arrays appear to be the first devices capable of bringing polarimetric capability to a wide range of applications. Whereas previous polarimeters were built to perform very specific measurements, the same micropolarizer-based camera can be used on a telescope, a microscope, or with a conventional camera lens.
In this work, I investigate the operating principles of micropolarizer arrays using high resolution 3D simulations and describe several strategies to fabricate and characterize micropolarizer-based imaging polarimeters. Furthermore, I show how to incorporate the device characterization into a calibrated demodulation procedure to extract polarimetric quantities from the raw pixel intensities. As part of this effort, I show how the measured sensor properties, like pixel throughput and contrast ratio, can be used to construct a software model to produce synthetic observations of various scenes. These synthetic data are a powerful tool to study the many effects which can give rise to systematic and/or random errors during the data analysis process. Finally, I present the polarimetry performed on several astronomical sources using the RIT Polarization Imaging Camera and compare my results to previous measurements made with conventional polarimeters. Using the current calibration of the RIT Polarization Imaging Camera, I was able to achieve a polarimetric accuracy of ~0.3% in images of extended objects and unresolved sources.
Library of Congress Subject Headings
Polarimetry; Focal planes
Astrophysical Sciences and Technology (Ph.D.)
Department, Program, or Center
School of Physics and Astronomy (COS)
Grover Swartzlander, Jr.
Michael G. Gartley
Vorobiev, Dmitry V., "Imaging Polarimetry with Polarization-Sensitive Focal Plane Arrays" (2017). Thesis. Rochester Institute of Technology. Accessed from
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