By the same authors

From the same journal

From the same journal

Recovery of surface orientation from diffuse polarization

Research output: Research - peer-reviewArticle

Full text download(s)


Published copy (DOI)


Department / unit(s)

Publication details

JournalIEEE Transactions on Image Processing
DatePublished - Jun 2006
Issue number6
Number of pages12
Pages (from-to)1653-1664
Original languageEnglish


When unpolarized light is reflected from a smooth dielectric surface, it becomes partially polarized. This is due to the orientation of dipoles induced in the reflecting medium and applies to both specular and diffuse reflection. This paper is concerned with exploiting polarization by surface reflection, using images of smooth dielectric objects, to recover surface normals and, hence, height. This paper presents the underlying physics of polarization by reflection, starting with the Fresnel equations. These equations are used to interpret images taken with a linear polarizer and digital camera, revealing the shape of the objects. Experimental results are presented that illustrate that the technique is accurate near object limbs, as the theory predicts, with less precise, but still useful, results elsewhere. A detailed analysis of the accuracy of the technique for a variety of materials is presented. A method for estimating refractive indices using a laser and linear polarizer is also given.

Bibliographical note

Copyright © 2006 IEEE. Personal use of this material is permitted. However, permission to reprint/republish this material for advertising or promotional purposes or for creating new collective works for resale or redistribution to servers or lists, or to reuse any copyrighted component of this work in other works must be obtained from the IEEE.

Discover related content

Find related publications, people, projects, datasets and more using interactive charts.

View graph of relations