Double cone of eigendirections in optically active ethylenediammonium selenate crystals

Alexander T. Martin, Shane M. Nichols, Sichao Li, Melissa Tan, Bart Kahr

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Circular birefringence (CB) is generally responsible for only a small perturbation to the state of light polarization in crystals that also exhibit linear birefringence (LB). As such, the magnetoelectric tensor of gyration, which gives rise to CB and optical activity, is less well determined than the electric permittivity tensor in optical models of the Mueller matrix. To visualize the effect of the magnetoelectric tensor on polarimetric measurements, reported here are experimental mappings of the Mueller matrix and of the CB in a new chiral crystal with accidental null LB at an accessible optical frequency. Single crystals of ethylenediammonium selenate (EDSeO4) were synthesized and characterized by X-ray diffraction and Mueller matrix measurements in transmission and reflection. The crystals are isomorphous with the corresponding sulfate salt. They are tetragonal, space group P41(3)212. The constitutive relations of EDSeO4 were recovered using a partial wave summation of incoherent reflections. The extraordinary and ordinary refractive indices cross at 364 nm (3.41eV), a scenario commonly called the 'isotropic point' or 'iso-index point'. At this wavelength, the magnetoelectric tensor fully describes the polarization transformation, giving rise to a double cone of eigendirections.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1117-1124
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of Applied Crystallography
StatePublished - 2017


  • X-ray diffraction
  • ellipsometry
  • gyration
  • isotropic point
  • magnetoelectric tensor
  • optical activity

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology


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