Changes in the state of polarization of a random electromagnetic beam on propagation

Olga Korotkova, Emil Wolf

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

239 Scopus citations


We show that the state of polarization of the polarized portion of a random, statistically stationary, electromagnetic beam may change on propagation, even in free space. We derive analytic formulas for the orientation angle and for the magnitudes of the major and of the minor axes of the polarization ellipse in terms of the elements of the 2 × 2 cross-spectral density matrix of the electric field. We also obtain conditions for the invariance of the state of polarization on propagation. We illustrate the results by a numerical example relating to an electromagnetic Gaussian Schell-model beam.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)35-43
Number of pages9
JournalOptics Communications
Issue number1-3
StatePublished - Feb 1 2005
Externally publishedYes


  • Free space propagation
  • State of polarization

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Electronic, Optical and Magnetic Materials
  • Atomic and Molecular Physics, and Optics
  • Physical and Theoretical Chemistry
  • Electrical and Electronic Engineering


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