Polarization vision: A door to an unseen world

Research output: Contribution to journalConference articlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations


Polarization vision (PV), or the sensitivity to the partial polarization and orientation of polarization of partially linearly polarized light (PLPL), is widely spread among marine animals. Humans however are mostly insensitive to polarized light and therefore the information it carries is not readily available to us. Using an imaging polarizer, capable of analyzing the linear polarization characteristics of a full image on a single pixel basis, I studied the distribution of PLPL in various oceanic environments, its reflection from various surfaces, and its use by marine animals. The polarimeter was based on two twisted nematic liquid crystals and a fixed polarizing filter in series in front of a video camera. Results revealed a great complexity in the marine polarized light environment. Further, several animals such as fish, echinoderms, and crustaceans reflected unique polarization patterns. In the horizontal line of view, the background light is more than 30% horizontally polarized. Under these conditions, transparent targets, which depolarize or rotate the orientation of polarization are expected to be conspicuous through PV. Several species of zooplankton were found to depolarize light in such a fashion. In field measurements PV enabled an increase of more than 80% in detection range for transparent depolarizing targets over intensity imaging.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)608-614
Number of pages7
JournalProceedings of SPIE - The International Society for Optical Engineering
StatePublished - 1 Dec 1997
Externally publishedYes
Event10th Meeting on Optical Engineering in Israel - Jerusalem, Israel
Duration: 2 Mar 19972 Mar 1997


  • Plankton
  • Polarization sensitivity
  • Polarized light
  • Target detection
  • Vision


Dive into the research topics of 'Polarization vision: A door to an unseen world'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this