Physlets run in a Java-enabled browser on the latest Windows & Mac operating systems.
If Physlets do not run, click here for help on updating Java and setting Java security.
Problem 39.1: Identify polarization
Please wait for the animation to completely load.
The animation shows the result of adding two perpendicular electric fields together. Each field is part of an electromagnetic wave traveling along the z axis. Each electric field is shown separately on the two graphs on the left. The graphs show the electric field at one point on the z axis for various times. On the right the animation shows both electric fields and their sum at the same point on the z axis and at the same times as the graphs on the left. It is as if you are looking down the z axis at the electric field. You can change the electric fields and the phase difference between the two fields and see the resulting waves. Restart.
You are given several graphs of the x and y components of the electric field. Produce a representation using the animation, like that shown in the right-hand animation, for the sum of the two fields. Use your representation to identify the type of polarization (include direction) that results.
Problem authored by Melissa Dancy and Wolfgang Christian.