What Is Nicol Prism?

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What Is Nicol Prism?

Nicol prism is a type of optical device used in polarization analysis and measurement of light. It was invented by William Nicol, a Scottish physicist in the 19th century, and has since been widely used in a variety of scientific applications.

In this blog, we will explore the structure and function of the Nicol prism, as well as its applications in polarimetry.

Structure Of Nicol Prism

Nicol prism is made of a single crystal of calcite that has been cut and polished in a specific manner. The crystal is usually shaped like a parallelepiped, with its faces coated with a thin film of metal or other material to enhance reflection.

The crystal is then cut along its length, creating two wedge-shaped pieces that are then bonded together using a transparent adhesive such as Canada balsam. The bonded crystal is then cut and polished to create the Nicol prism.

The Function Of Nicol Prism

Nicol prism works by taking advantage of the unique optical properties of calcite crystals. When a beam of light enters a Nicol prism, it is split into two rays, one of which is polarized in a specific direction.

The polarized ray travels through the crystal, while the other ray is absorbed. When the polarized ray exits the crystal, it is oriented in a specific direction, depending on the orientation of the crystal.

Applications Of Nicol Prism

Nicol prism is widely used in polarimetry, a technique for measuring the polarization of light. Polarimetry is used in a variety of scientific applications, including material science, chemistry, and biology.

Nicol prism is also used in optical instruments such as polarimeters, which measure the rotation of polarized light passing through a sample. It is also used in spectroscopy, where it is used to analyze the polarization of light emitted by a sample.

Nicol prism is also used in photography, where it is used to enhance the contrast of black and white images by polarizing light in a specific direction.


Nicol prism is an important optical device that has found widespread use in a variety of scientific applications. It works by polarizing light and is used in polarimetry, spectroscopy, and photography. Its unique optical properties make it a valuable tool for studying the polarization of light and understanding the physical properties of materials.

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What Is Nicol’s Prism In Physics?

The Nicol prism consists of two specially cut calcite prisms bonded together with an adhesive known as Canada balsam. This prism transmits waves vibrating in one direction only and thus produces a plane-polarized beam from ordinary light.

What Are The Nicol Prism And Its Use?

Nicol prisms were first used to measure the polarization angle of birefringent compounds, leading to new developments in the understanding of the interaction between polarized light and crystalline substances.

What Is Nicol’s Prism Made Of?

It consists of a rhombohedral crystal of Iceland spar (a variety of calcite (CaCO3)). Or in other words Nicol clear, block-like crystals of calcium carbonate.

Which Light Is Produced By Nicol’s Prism?

The Nicol prism is made in such a way that it eliminates one of the two rays by total internal reflection, thus producing plane polarised light.


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