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A light wave which is vibrating in more than one plane is referred to as unpolarized light. Light emitted by the sun, by a lamp in the classroom, or by a candle flame is unpolarized light. Such light waves are created by electric charges which vibrate in a variety of directions, thus creating an electromagnetic wave which vibrates in a variety of directions.

1996-2010 The Physics Classroom


The most common method of polarization involves the use of a polarizing filter. Polarizing filters are made of a special material which is capable of blocking one of the two planes of vibration of an electromagnetic wave. When unpolarized light is transmitted through a polarizing filter, it emerges with one-half the intensity and with vibrations in a single plane; it emerges as polarized light.

1996-2010 The Physics Classroom