birefringence

Science Dictionary
birefringence  [%PREMIUM_LINK%]     (bī'rĭ-frĭn'jəns)  Pronunciation Key 
  1. The property or capacity of splitting a beam of light into two beams, each refracted at a different angle, and each polarized at a right angle to the other. Certain crystals such as calcite and quartz have this property.

  2. The difference in the index of refraction between two beams passing through a substance that has this property. See also refraction, index of refraction.


The American Heritage® Science Dictionary
Copyright © 2002. Published by Houghton Mifflin. All rights reserved.
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