Orientational dependence of linear dichroism exemplified by dyed spherulites

Jason B. Benedict, John H. Freudenthal, Eva Hold's, Bart Kahr

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


D-Sorbitol forms so-called spherulites from under-cooled melts. These polycrystalline formations have optically uniaxial radii. Melts pressed between glasses crystallize as plane sections of spheres. Dyes that are soluble in molten sorbitol become oriented as the crystallization front passes through the melt so as to form disks with large linear dichroism in the absorption bands of the dyes. The dyeing of spherulites is thus a general method of solute alignment. The linear optical properties of sorbitol spherulites containing the azo dye amaranth were analyzed in detail so as to correct a persistent confusion in the literature regarding the orientational dependence of linear dichroism. In cases involving thin film dichroism of multilayered samples requiring many corrections of intensity data in non-normal incidence, some authors have taken transmittance and others absorbance as having a cosine-squared angular dependence on the plane of the electric vector of linearly polarized light. Plane sections of doped spherulites present all orientations of an electric dipole oscillator in spatially localized region in normal incidence. As such, the samples described herein are ideally suited to resolving this confusion. Images of transmittance of dyed spherulites in polarized light were recorded with a CCD camera and simulated under the assumption that both absorbance and transmittance show a cosine-squared angular dependence but with respect to different angles. Transmittance with a cosine-squared dependence follows azimuthal rotations of the spherulite radii around the wave vector, while absorbance with a cosine-squared dependence follows rotations about axes perpendicular to the wave vector, natural consequences of the properties of the optical indicatrix that are often overlooked. Spherulites obviate the substantial experimental complexities that are engendered in non-normal incidence by sample reorientation. Thus, the principles of anisotropic absorption are given in a complete and intuitive fashion.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)10714-10719
Number of pages6
JournalJournal of the American Chemical Society
Issue number32
StatePublished - Aug 13 2008

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Catalysis
  • General Chemistry
  • Biochemistry
  • Colloid and Surface Chemistry


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