Abstract

If light is focused or collected with a high numerical aperture lens, as may occur in imaging and optical encryption applications, polarization should be considered in three dimensions (3D). The matrix algebra of polarization behavior in 3D is discussed. It is useful to convert between the Mueller matrix and two different Hermitian matrices, representing an optical material or system, which are in the literature. Explicit transformation matrices for converting the column vector form of these different matrices are extended to the 3D case, where they are large (81×81) but can be generated using simple rules. It is found that there is some advantage in using a generalization of the Chandrasekhar phase matrix treatment, rather than that based on Gell–Mann matrices, as the resultant matrices are of simpler form and reduce to the two-dimensional case more easily. Explicit expressions are given for 3D complex field components in terms of Chandrasekhar–Stokes parameters.

© 2016 Optical Society of America

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