Browse Definitions:
Definition

polarization (wave polarization)

Polarization, also called wave polarization, is an expression of the orientation of the lines of electric flux in an electromagnetic field ( EM field ). Polarization can be constant -- that is, existing in a particular orientation at all times, or it can rotate with each wave cycle.

Polarization is important in wireless communications systems. The physical orientation of a wireless antenna corresponds to the polarization of the radio waves received or transmitted by that antenna. Thus, a vertical antenna receives and emits vertically polarized waves, and a horizontal antenna receives or emits horizontally polarized waves. The best short-range communications is obtained when the transmitting and receiving (source and destination) antennas have the same polarization. The least efficient short-range communications usually takes place when the two antennas are at right angles (for example, one horizontal and one vertical). Over long distances, the atmosphere can cause the polarization of a radio wave to fluctuate, so the distinction between horizontal and vertical becomes less significant.

Some wireless antennas transmit and receive EM waves whose polarization rotates 360 degrees with each complete wave cycle. This type of polarization, called elliptical or circular polarization, can be either clockwise or counterclockwise. The best communications results are obtained when the transmitting and receiving antennas have the same sense of polarization (both clockwise or both counterclockwise). The worst communications usually takes place when the two antennas radiate and receive in the opposite sense (one clockwise and the other counterclockwise).

Polarization affects the propagation of EM fields at infrared ( IR ), visible, ultraviolet ( UV ), and even X-ray wavelength s. In ordinary visible light, there are numerous wave components at random polarization angles. When such light is passed through a special filter, the filter blocks all light except that having a certain polarization. When two polarizing filters are placed so a ray of light passes through them both, the amount of light transmitted depends on the angle of the polarizing filters with respect to each other. The most light is transmitted when the two filters are oriented so they polarize light in the same direction. The least light is transmitted when the filters are oriented at right angles to each other.

The effect of polarization on visible light can be striking. Anyone who has worn polarized sunglasses, or who has used polarizing filters in photography, knows how a clear sky polarizes sunlight. Polarized sunglasses can reduce glare reflected from surfaces; this is useful under certain driving conditions and can also make it easier to see beneath the surface of a body of water. In twisted nematic display s (TN displays), polarizing filters are used in conjunction with a special liquid to brighten and darken regions of the display as external voltage s are applied. This makes it possible to display alphanumeric characters in wristwatches, cell phones, and various other consumer electronic devices.
This was last updated in March 2011

Start the conversation

Send me notifications when other members comment.

By submitting you agree to receive email from TechTarget and its partners. If you reside outside of the United States, you consent to having your personal data transferred to and processed in the United States. Privacy

Please create a username to comment.

-ADS BY GOOGLE

File Extensions and File Formats

Powered by:

SearchCompliance

  • PCAOB (Public Company Accounting Oversight Board)

    The Public Company Accounting Oversight Board (PCAOB) is a Congressionally-established nonprofit that assesses audits of public ...

  • cyborg anthropologist

    A cyborg anthropologist is an individual who studies the interaction between humans and technology, observing how technology can ...

  • RegTech

    RegTech, or regulatory technology, is a term used to describe technology that is used to help streamline the process of ...

SearchSecurity

  • Advanced Encryption Standard (AES)

    The Advanced Encryption Standard, or AES, is a symmetric block cipher used by the U.S. government to protect classified ...

  • identity theft

    Identity theft, also known as identity fraud, is a crime in which an imposter obtains key pieces of personally identifiable ...

  • spear phishing

    Spear phishing is an email-spoofing attack that targets a specific organization or individual, seeking unauthorized access to ...

SearchHealthIT

SearchDisasterRecovery

  • call tree

    A call tree -- sometimes referred to as a phone tree -- is a telecommunications chain for notifying specific individuals of an ...

  • mass notification system (MNS)

    A mass notification system is a platform that sends one-way messages to inform employees and the public of an emergency.

  • disaster recovery as a service (DRaaS)

    One approach to a strong disaster recovery plan is DRaaS, where companies offload data replication and restoration ...

SearchStorage

  • CIFS (Common Internet File System)

    CIFS (Common Internet File System) is a protocol that gained popularity around the year 2000, as vendors worked to establish an ...

  • GlusterFS (Gluster File System)

    GlusterFS (Gluster File System) is an open source distributed file system that can scale out in building-block fashion to store ...

  • virtual memory

    Virtual memory is a memory management capability of an OS that allows a computer to compensate for physical memory shortages by ...

SearchSolidStateStorage

  • Tier 0

    Tier 0 (tier zero) is a level of data storage that is faster, and perhaps more expensive, than any other level in the storage ...

  • PCIe SSD (PCIe solid-state drive)

    A PCIe SSD (PCIe solid-state drive) is a high-speed expansion card that attaches a computer to its peripherals.

  • SSD caching

    SSD caching, also known as flash caching, is the temporary storage of data on NAND flash memory chips in a solid-state drive so ...

SearchCloudStorage

  • RESTful API

    A RESTful application program interface breaks down a transaction to create a series of small modules, each of which addresses an...

  • cloud storage infrastructure

    Cloud storage infrastructure is the hardware and software framework that supports the computing requirements of a private or ...

  • Zadara VPSA and ZIOS

    Zadara Storage provides block, file or object storage with varying levels of compute and capacity through its ZIOS and VPSA ...

Close