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Title: Informational limits in optical polarimetry and vectorial imaging
Author: Foreman, Matthew Roy
ISNI:       0000 0004 2684 4359
Awarding Body: Imperial College London
Current Institution: Imperial College London
Date of Award: 2010
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Light has provided the means to learn and gather information about the physical world throughout history. In a world where science moves to smaller scales and more specialised problems however, the boundaries of current technology are continually challenged, motivating the search for more sophisticated systems providing greater information content, sensitivity and increased dimensionality. Utilising the vectorial nature of light presents a promising avenue by which to meet these growing requirements. Polarisation can, for example, be used to transmit information, or alternatively, changes in polarisation induced by an object allow study of previously neglected material properties, such as birefringence and diattenuation. Central to this thesis is thus the characterisation and exploitation of the opportunities afforded by the electromagnetic (i.e. vectorial) nature of light. To this end the work follows three running themes: quantification of polarisation information; formulation of simple propagation tools for electromagnetic waves; and development of specific polarisation based optical systems. Characterising the informational limits inherent to polarisation based systems reduces to considering the uncertainty present in any observations. Uncertainty can, for example, arise from stochastic variation in the polarisation state being measured, or from random noise perturbations upon detection. Both factors are considered and quantified here. Development of vectorial optical systems does, however, pose significant difficulties in modelling, due to mathematical complexity and computational requirements. A number of new tools are hence developed, as prove applicable to a wide variety of applications. Examples are naturally given. To illustrate the potential of polarisation based systems, specific current topics are discussed; namely the growing demand for data storage, and single molecule studies. It will be shown that polarisation, can not only be used to multiplex information in data pits on optical media, but also to allow full 3D study of single molecules. Factors pertinent to such studies are studied in detail.
Supervisor: Torok, Peter Sponsor: EPSRC ; Royal Academy of Engineering ; Institute of Physics ; Imperial Trust
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral