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Encyclopedia > Dove prism

A Dove prism is a type of reflective prism which is used to invert an image. Dove prisms are shaped from a truncated right-angle prism. A beam of light entering one of the sloped faces of the prism undergoes total internal reflection from the inside of the longest (bottom) face and emerges from the opposite sloped face. Images passing through the prism are flipped, and because only one reflection takes place, the image's handedness is changed to the opposite sense. Image File history File links No higher resolution available. ... If a shaft of light entering a prism is sufficiently narrow, a spectrum results. ... In common usage, an image (from Latin imago) or picture is an artifact that reproduces the likeness of some subject—usually a physical object or a person. ... In geometry, an n-sided prism is a polyhedron made of an n-sided polygonal base, a translated copy, and n faces joining corresponding sides. ... The larger the angle to the normal, the smaller is the fraction of light transmitted, until the angle when total internal reflection occurs. ... Handedness is an attribute of human beings defined by their unequal distribution of fine motor skill between the left and right hands. ...

Dove prisms have an interesting property that when they are rotated along their longitudinal axis, the transmitted image rotates at twice the rate of the prism. This property means they can rotate a beam of light by an arbitrary angle, making them useful in beam rotators, which have applications in fields such as interferometry, astronomy, and pattern recognition. It has been suggested that Optical interferometry be merged into this article or section. ... A giant Hubble mosaic of the Crab Nebula, a supernova remnant Astronomy is the science of celestial objects (such as stars, planets, comets, and galaxies) and phenomena that originate outside the Earths atmosphere (such as auroras and cosmic background radiation). ... Pattern recognition is a field within the area of machine learning. ...

Moreno et. al (2003, 2004) found that there is a change in the state of polarization of a beam of light on passing through a rotated dove prism. The polarization-transforming properties of dove prisms are of particular interest because they can influence the signal measurement of the scientific instrument.

The Dove prism is named for its inventor, Heinrich Wilhelm Dove. Heinrich Wilhelm Dove (October 6, 1803 – April 4, 1879) was a Prussian physicist and meteorologist. ...


  • Moreno, i. (2004). Jones matrix for image-rotation prisms. Applied Optics. ISSN 00036935. 
  • Moreno, i; et. al (2003). Polarization transforming properties of Dove prisms. Optics Communications. ISSN 00304018. 

  Results from FactBites:
Olympus Microscopy Resource Center: Physics of Light and Color - Introduction to Prisms and Beamsplitters (5074 words)
Although at first glance the dove prism appears to be a good candidate for dispersion (due to the angular entrance of the light beam), transmission of light through the prism is actually equivalent to passage through a slab of glass with the side benefit of image rotation.
In practice, two dove prisms are often cemented together at the hypotenuse (after placing a mirrored surface on these faces) to produce a bi-prism with the ability to change the direction of sight for telescopes, periscopes, and other optical instruments.
Penta prisms are often referred to as an optical square (as applied to surveying instruments), because the incoming light beam is deviated at the same angle, regardless of the prism orientation with respect to the line of sight.
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