According to Edwin H. Land, it was discovered in 1852 by William Bird Herapath, a Bristol surgeon and chemist. One of his pupils found that adding iodine to the urine of a dog that had been fed quinine produced unusual green crystals. Herapath noticed while studying the crystals under a microscope that they appeared to polarize light.
Prof. Ferdinand Bernauer invented a process to grow single herapathite crystals large enough to be sandwiched between two sheets of glass to create a polarizing filter. These were sold under the Bernotar name by Carl Zeiss. This method has since been lost.
Herapathite's dichroic properties came to the attention of Sir David Brewster, and were later used by Land in 1929 to construct the first type of Polaroid sheet polarizer. He did this by embedding herapathite crystals in a polymer instead of growing a single large crystal.
- W. B. Herapath (1852). Phil. Mag. (London: Taylor & Francis) 3: 161.
- Bart Kahr, John Freudenthal, Shane Phillips, Werner Kaminsky, "Herapathite", Science, 12 June 2009. Accessed 26 November 2012.
- Bernauer, F. (1935). "Neue Wege zur Herstellung von Polarisatoren". Forschritte der Mineralogie, Kristallographie und Petrographie Neunzehnter Band
- Land, E.H. (1951). "Some aspects on the development of sheet polarizers". J. Optical Society of America 41 (12), 957-963.