We present an imaging polarimeter in transmission mode that is based on a carrier frequency method and allows a spatially resolved polarimetric description of nondichroic linear birefringent media. The apparatus incorporates a generator of polarization states in the incoming pathway and a Wollaston prism and a linear polarizer as the analyzer unit. A series of two fringe pattern images of the birefringent sample under study, corresponding to two independent polarization states of the generator unit, were recorded. From these images and by using Fourier analysis, the 2D distribution of azimuth angle and retardation were calculated. Two alternative generator units were used: (i) a linear polarizer combined with a rotatory quarter-wave plate and (ii) a liquid-crystal variable retarder. A uniform quarter-wave plate at different orientations was measured with both generator units to demonstrate the effectiveness and the accuracy of the method. The mean absolute deviations were 1.8° and 4.1° for the azimuth and the retardation, respectively, with the first generator unit, and 2.9° and 4.4° for the second one. Moreover, some nonuniform birefringent samples presenting wider ranges of azimuth and retardation were also tested.
© 2006 Optical Society of America