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This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 118 pages of information about Scientific American Supplement, No. 441, June 14, 1884..

II.—­THE NEW POLARIZING PRISM.

This prism differs very considerably from the preceding forms, and consists of a thin plate of a doubly refracting crystal cemented between two wedge-shaped pieces of glass, the terminal faces of which are normal to the length.  The external form of the prism may thus be similar to the Hartnack, the calc-spar being replaced by glass.  The indices of refraction of the glass and of the cementing medium should correspond with the greater index of refraction of the crystal, and the directions of greatest and least elasticity in the latter must stand in a plane perpendicular to the direction of the section.  One of the advantages claimed for the new prism is that, it dispenses with the large and valuable pieces of spar hitherto found necessary; a further advantage being that other crystalline substances may be used in this prism instead of calc-spar.  The latter advantage, however, occurs only when the difference between the indices of refraction for the ordinary and extraordinary rays in the particular crystal made use of is greater than in calc-spar.  When this is the case, the field becomes enlarged, and the length of the prism is reduced.

[Illustration:  Fig. 7.]

The substance which Dr. Feussner has employed as being most suitable for the separating crystal plate is nitrate of soda (natronsalpeter), in which the above-mentioned values are [omega] = 1.587 and [eta] = 1.336.  It crystallizes in similar form to calcite, and in both cases thin plates obtained by cleavage may be used.

As the cementing substance for the nitrate of soda, a mixture of gum dammar with monobromonaphthalene was used, which afforded an index of refraction of 1.58.  In the case of thin plates of calcite, a solid cementing substance of sufficiently high refractive power was not available, and a fluid medium was therefore employed.  For this purpose the whole prism was inclosed in a short glass tube with airtight ends, which was filled with monobromonaphthalene.  In an experimental prism a mixture of balsam of tolu was made use of, giving a cement with an index of refraction of 1.62, but the low refractive power resulted in a very considerable reduction of the field.  The extent and disposition of the field may be varied by altering the inclination at which the crystal lamina is inserted (Fig. 7), and thereby reducing the length of the prism, as in the case of the Hartnack.

In order to obviate the effects of reflection from the internal side surfaces if the prism, the wedge-shaped blocks of glass of which it is built up may be made much broader than would otherwise be necessary; the edges of this extra width are cut obliquely and suitably blackened.

The accompanying diagram (Fig. 8) represents a prism of cylindrical external form constructed in this manner, the lower surface being that of the incident light.  In this the field amounts to 30 deg., and the breadth is about double the length.

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