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Measurements of the polarization states (represented by complex numbers Xr and Xt, respectively) of light reflected and transmitted by an unsupported or embedded thin film, for totally polarized light (with nonzero p and s components) incident at 45°, permit simple, direct, and explicit determination of the film's complex refractive index N1 independently of film thickness or input polarization. If α = Xr/Xt, we find that α = rs + rs-1, where rs is Fresnel’s complex reflection coefficient of the ambient-film interface for the s polarization at 45° incidence. From α, rs is determined, and from rs we get N1 = N0(1 + rs2)1/2/(1 + rs), where N0 is the refractive index of the transparent medium surrounding the film. Knowledge of the incident polarization Xi allows the film thickness to be determined, also explicitly, by using either of the ratios Xi/Xr or Xi/Xt.

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Journal of the Optical Society of America (1917-1983)


This paper was published in Journal of the Optical Society of America (1917-1983) and is made available as an electronic reprint with the permission of OSA. The paper can be found at the following URL on the OSA website: Systematic or multiple reproduction or distribution to multiple locations via electronic or other means is prohibited and is subject to penalties under law.