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The four-detector photopolarimeter (FDP) is analyzed for an arbitrary spatial configuration and any reflection characteristics (ri, ψi, Δi) of the first three detectors. The instrument matrix A, which relates the output signal vector I to the input Stokes vector S by I = AS, and its determinant are derived explicitly. The essential condition that A be nonsingular (det A ≠ 0) is satisfied in general with uncoated absorbing detector surfaces, assuming that the plane of incidence (POI) is rotated between successive reflections by other than 90°. Therefore no special coatings on the detectors are required, and a thin dielectric (e.g., thermal oxide) layer would suffice. The differential reflection phase shift Δ is unrestricted for the first and 0third detectors and has optimum values of ±90° for the second. The optimum rotation angles of the POI are ±45° and ±135°. The optimum values of the surface parameter ψ are 27.37°, 22.5° or 67.5°, and 0 or 90° for the first, second, and third reflections, respectively. The following topics are also considered: (1) the partition of energy among detectors, (2) the effect of tilting the last detector, (3) operation of the FDP over a broadband spectral range, (4) choice of the light-beam path, and (5) calibration.

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Journal of the Optical Society of America A


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