Cotton–Mouton effect

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In physical optics, the Cotton–Mouton effect refers to birefringence in a liquid in the presence of a constant transverse magnetic field. It is a similar but stronger effect than the Voigt effect (in which the medium is a gas instead of a liquid). The electric analog is the Kerr effect.

It was discovered in 1907 by Aimé Cotton and Henri Mouton, working in collaboration.

When a linearly polarized wave propagates perpendicular to magnetic field (e.g. in a magnetized plasma), it can become elliptized. Because a linearly polarized wave is some combination of in-phase X & O modes, and because X & O waves propagate with different phase velocities, this causes elliptization of the emerging beam. As the waves propagate, the phase difference (δ) between EX & EO increases.[1]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Eric W. Weisstein. "Cotton-Mouton Effect -- from Eric Weisstein's World of Physics". Wolfram Research, Inc. Retrieved 25 October 2016.