Stress induced birefringence

Due to to the way TFT screens function, they emit polarized light. A nice thing that can be done with a polarized light source is investigating Stress induced birefringence in plastic materials.

To do this you need three things in total:

  • A TFT screen on full brightness displaying something white (notepad for instance)
  • Polarized sunglasses
  • Plastic material (a lot of plastics will work)

To take pictures you’ll need to have a digital camera too of course.

  • Aim the camera at the screen
  • Hold the sunglasses between the camera and the screen
  • Rotate the sunglasses until the light from the screen is maximally dimmed
  • Hold a plastic material between the sunglasses and the screen

Some examples (click to zoom):

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