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A visual understanding of optical rotation using corn syrup.

Nixon, M. and Hughes, I. G. (2017) 'A visual understanding of optical rotation using corn syrup.', European journal of physics., 38 (4). 045302.


In this paper a visual demonstration of optical rotation is presented, with content appropriate for use in a lecture demonstration as well as quantitative techniques suitable for an undergraduate-laboratory experiment. Linearly polarised lasers of various wavelengths are propagated through a glass tube containing corn syrup. The rotation of the plane of polarisation of the light is visible with the naked eye, making the experiment dramatic and engaging and aiding understanding of the phenomenon of optical rotation. In addition, we present a simple approach to quantitatively analyse data using only equipment commonly found in undergraduate teaching laboratories.

Item Type:Article
Full text:(AM) Accepted Manuscript
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Publisher statement:This is an author-created, un-copyedited version of an article published in European Journal of Physics. IOP Publishing Ltd is not responsible for any errors or omissions in this version of the manuscript or any version derived from it. The Version of Record is available online at
Date accepted:29 March 2017
Date deposited:30 June 2017
Date of first online publication:20 April 2017
Date first made open access:20 April 2018

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