Abstract

A macroscopic theory of electric-field-induced optical activity in nonmagnetic crystals is presented, which is based on Maxwell’s equations. An eigenvalue wave equation is derived, in which multipole moments to the order of electric quadrupole and magnetic dipole, and distortions thereof linear in the applied electric field, are consistently included. This wave equation allows the linear electric-field-induced circular birefringence and also other coexisting natural and field-induced birefringences to be expressed in terms of crystal property tensors. By means of symmetry considerations, nonmagnetic crystal classes are identified that exhibit linear electric-field-induced optical activity for particular light-propagation and applied-field geometries and for light waves with purely transverse fields.

© 1997 Optical Society of America

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