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The polarimeters of PCE are measurement devices in the field of photoelasticity to determine the mechanical stress in transparent solid bodies. The polarimetry is a method to determine the purity and concentration of optical active substances, e.g. glucose, fructose, saccharine etc. in the sugar industry, creamery industry, wine industry, beverage industry, fruit industry, as well as for the analysis of additives in food, in medicine for the analysis of the glucose and albumin concentration in urine, in the cosmetics industry to determine the percentage of chiral essential oils and fragrances. In order to determine the rotating direction of chiral substances via a polarimeter, the change in the angle of linear polarized light as it passes through the sample of a chemical substance, leads to its determination. These optical active substances are said to be birefringent. The birefringence also correlates with temperature and frequency. It is often measured at a wavelength of 589 nm (sodium-d-line), and at other wavelengths as well. Due to its correlation with the temperature, it is often measured at a fix temperature of 20 C, 22 C or 25 C.
If you don't find the polarimeters you are looking for, please contact us and we will help you find the best solution to suit your requirements by calling our offices on: UK customers +44(0) 23 809 870 30 / US customers (561) 320-9162 and our technical staff will advise you regarding our measuring instruments. Our engineers and technicians will be happy to help you with the polarimeters, and of course, with the other products in the field of regulation and control, and scales and balances.

Here you can see polarimeters from these companies:

Polarimeters by OPTIKA

You can view the technical specifications for our polarimeters at the following links:  

- Polarimeter POL-1
(For laboratorial tasks and applications, Nicol prisms, 589 nm wave length, open pitch circle of 180)

Polarimeters by OPTIKAPolarimeters POL-1

Principle of the polarimeters
Polarimeters mostly consist of two Nicol prisms. The fixed polarizor polarizes the light coming from a light source (sodium vapour lamp) linearly. The movable analyzor then helps determining the angle of the polarized plane. If both prisms are in a 90 angle towards each other, no light can pass through, so that a dark plane is observed. As soon as a sample of a substance is applied in-between the two filters, their birefringence causes an alternation of the light's angle and the spot appears a little brighter to the observer. This brightening depends on the merit of the rotation, which is then measured. The rotation angle α is proportional to the film thickness l of the sample and its concentration c. The proportionality factor or the specific rotation [α] depends on the relevant substance, its temperature and wave length. 
The formula for these correlations was developed by the french physicist Jean B. Biot and is called Biot law:

c = concentration in g/cm
L = length of the tube in mm (corresponding to film thickness of the sample)
α] = specific rotation (depending on temperature and wave lengths)
a = measured rotation-angel in


Due to two sequenced polarizers -  the second one is called analyzer - the following effects can be observed:

  • Analyzer is placed in same angle as polarizer: light can transmit and the polarization plane is preserved.

  • Analyzer is in a 90 angle to polarizer: light can not pass through, the field appears to be dark.

  • Polarizer and analyzer placed in a 90 angle again, a substance is applied, which changes the light polarization plane (so called optical active substance) due to its birefringence, so that the electronic field vector is rotated into a certain angle. The analyzer must be further rotated, in order to reach the dark spot again. The merit of this rotation is a characteristic constant (rotating angle), which is used for the analysis of the substance, in order to determine it, and its purity and concentration.

Nowadays there are many known optical active substances (either natural or synthesized) that are able to rotate the light polarization level. 
Important examples are: 

  • Sugar (saccharine)
  • Some natural crystals, such as quartz, calc spar CaCO3, cinnabar, sodium chlorate
  • Liquid crystals for displays
  • Many chemical solutions that are chiral (i.e. they have two "mirror"-enantiomers) and play an important role in areas of medicine and food, e.g. ascorbic acid (vitamin C), Citalopram (anti-depressives) 

26 g saccharine solved in pure water with a volume of 100 cm has at standard pressure (1013 HPa) and 589.44 nm in a sample tube of 200 mm an optical rotation angle of 34.626 ang 0.001. This solution is called a standard sugar solution, and is used to calibrate and validate polymeric methods and devices. It is the reference point of the international sugar scale (ISS) defined by the ICUMSA. The rotation of 34.626 ang correlates with a concentration of 26g/l saccharine. The ISS is a linear scale, i.e. a rotation of 17.313 ang correlates with 13 g/100cm saccharine. 

Sugar solutions are not very stable and must be re-prepared on a regular basis. A much more reliable method to test a polarimeter is the one with quartz. In 1811 the french physicist F. Arago discovered its polarizing characteristics and the optical activity of natural quartz. The rotation angle depends on the layer thickness and the wave length of the used light. And it is almost identical with the rotation angle of a saccharine solution. Quartz control plates are nowadays used as inert standards for the calibration of the polarimeters.

If you wish to see or print a selection of polarimeters from our catalogue, click the PDF symbol
Gas Analyzers (Gas analysers) catalogue.

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