Section 2: Anisotropic Media

As the name would imply, anisotropic media refers to media that have nonuniform material properties. Specifically in the case of optics, we are talking about optical properties, and dependence on the direction of propagation of light and polarization of the light waves. Materials that exhibit anisotropic optical properties are both crystals such as calcite and quartz, as well as liquid crystals.

Table of Contents:

  1. Dielectric Tensor of Anisotropic Medium
  2. Plane Wave Propagation in Anisotropic Media
  3. Index Ellipsoid
  4. Phase Velocity, Group Velocity, and Energy Velocity
  5. Classification of Anisotropic Media
  6. Light Propagation in Uniaxial Crystals
  7. Light Propagation in Biaxial Crystals
  8. Optical Activity & Faraday Rotation
  9. Coupled Mode Analysis for Periodic Media
  10. Equation of Motion for Polarization State


This discussion largely follows the book “Optical Waves in Crystals” by Amnon Yariv and Pochi Yeh. Those interested in this subject should check out this book for a more high-level description of light propagation in anisotropic media.

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