Wake Forest Physics
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WFU Physics Lecture Demonstrations
Birefringent materials, including calcite crystals,
have the ability to refract an unpolarized incident ray into two separate
polarized rays. The refracted rays are referred to as the "ordinary,"
or "O" ray, which obeys Snell's Law, and the "extraordinary," or "E" ray,
which does not. The crystal is set on the overhead over a small hole made
in a note card. A polaroid sheet can be used to check the polarization
of the exiting rays.