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The Chemical Educator

ISSN: 1430-4171 (electronic version)

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Abstract Volume 7 Issue 4 (2002) pp 200-204

Polarized Light and Quantum Mechanics: An Optical Analog of the Stern–Gerlach Experiment

Joseph M. Brom*,† and Frank Rioux

Department of Chemistry, University of St. Thomas’ St. Paul, MN 55105, and Department of Chemistry, St. John’s University/College of St. Benedict, St. Joseph, MN 56374
Received March 6, 2002. Accepted April 24, 2002

Published online: 26 July 2002

Abstract. Lecture demonstrations involving polarization of light are presented and discussed from the quantum theoretical point of view. The demonstrations clearly show that only two base states are required to describe the quantum state of a photon and they illustrate an optical analog of the Stern–Gerlach experiment that involved electrons.

Key Words:  Laboratories and Demonstrations; physical chemistry; quantum mechanics; photon polarizationphysical chemistry

(*) Corresponding author. (E-mail:

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Issue date: August 2, 2002

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