Hybrid immersion-polarization method for measuring birefringence applied to spider silks

Douglas J. Little*, Deborah M. Kane

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

14 Citations (Scopus)
11 Downloads (Pure)


A technique for accurate measurement of the principle refractive indices and birefringence for silklike samples is presented. It is based on rotating the linear polarization of the illuminating light on a silk immersed in reference liquid to achieve index matching at the silk/liquid interface. The technique was used to measure the principal refractive indices of a P. eburnus radial silk at different strains. This in turn allows the calculation of strain-optic coefficients. The first measurement of the strain-optic coefficients of spider silk is presented. The technique is more generally applicable to strain-optic study of birefringent micro-optic samples.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)4098-4100
Number of pages3
JournalOptics Letters
Issue number20
Publication statusPublished - 15 Oct 2011

Bibliographical note

This paper was published in Optics Letters and is made available as an electronic reprint with the permission of OSA. The paper can be found at the following URL on the OSA website: [http://www.opticsinfobase.org/abstract.cfm?URI=ol-36-20-4098]. Systematic or multiple reproduction or distribution to multiple locations via electronic or other means is prohibited and is subject to penalties under law.


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