Abstract

It is known that liquid crystal (LC) cells are useful as compact and easy-to-handle phase shifters that are readily coupled into the optics of standard microscope systems. Here, a uniformly aligned molecular LC phase shifter is introduced into a polarization microscope to attain a birefringence imaging system, using the phase-shift interferometric technique. Since the birefringence can be determined accurately only when the optical axis of the sample is parallel or perpendicular to the slow axis (variable axis) of the LC phase shifter, an improved data analysis method is proposed for determining the birefringence independently of the direction; a simple method of determining the slow axis distribution is also demonstrated. Measurements of the birefringence and slow axis distribution properties of a potato starch particle are demonstrated to confirm the novel determination method.

© 2014 Optical Society of America

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