Circularly and elliptically polarized light under water and the Umov effect

Yitian Ding, Stanley Pau

Research output: Contribution to journalLetterpeer-review

17 Scopus citations


Total internal reflection occurs when light is incident on the interface of high- and low-refractive-index materials at an angle greater than the critical angle. Sunlight with high degree of linear polarization, such as atmospheric scattered skylight, can be converted with a high efficiency up to 53% to circular and elliptical polarizations by total internal reflection under water in the region outside Snell’s window. The degree of circular polarization is observed to be inversely dependent on the albedo of underwater objects and is shown to be a direct consequence of the Umov effect. Our results are important for underwater polarimetry, surveillance applications and studies of marine animals’ polarized vision near the water-air interface.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number32
JournalLight: Science and Applications
Issue number1
StatePublished - Dec 1 2019

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Electronic, Optical and Magnetic Materials
  • Atomic and Molecular Physics, and Optics


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