, linear polarization
or plane polarization
of electromagnetic radiation
is a confinement of the electric field
vector or magnetic field
vector to a given plane along the direction of propagation. See polarization
for more information.
Historically, the orientation of a polarized electromagnetic wave has been defined in the optical regime by the orientation of the electric vector, and in the radio regime, by the orientation of the magnetic vector.
Mathematical description of linear polarization
The classical sinusoidal
plane wave solution of the electromagnetic wave equation
for the electric
fields is (cgs units)
for the magnetic field, where k is the wavenumber,
is the angular frequency of the wave, and is the speed of light.
is the amplitude of the field and
is the Jones vector in the x-y plane.
The wave is linearly polarized when the phase angles are equal,
This represents a wave polarized at an angle with respect to the x axis. In that case the Jones vector can be written
The state vectors for linear polarization in x or y are special cases of this state vector.
If unit vectors are defined such that
then the polarization state can written in the "x-y basis" as
- Jackson, John D. (1998). Classical Electrodynamics (3rd ed.). Wiley. ISBN 0-471-30932-X.