birefringence

noun

bi·​re·​frin·​gence ˌbī-ri-ˈfrin-jən(t)s How to pronounce birefringence (audio)
plural birefringences
1
: the refraction of light in an anisotropic material (such as calcite) in two slightly different directions to form two rays
According to G. Blom of Philips, video disc acrylics must be optically clear and free of striations and birefringence. Clear vinyl often is highly birefringent.Technical Survey

called also double refraction

2
: the visual effect produced by birefringence
The diagnosis was made before scanning in 22 patients by the detection of deposits with apple-green birefringencePhilip N. Hawkins et al.
3
: the difference between the angles of refraction of light rays exhibiting birefringence
birefringent adjective

Examples of birefringence in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web To get a faster response time on the PG27AQN, Asus made an IPS panel with liquid crystals carrying higher birefringence (basically, light refraction in two directions) and lower viscosity (or stickiness) to allow the liquid crystals to twist rapidly so light can pass through. Scharon Harding, Ars Technica, 8 Jan. 2022 When light passes through this region of space where vacuum birefringence occurs, it gets polarized, but only if this phenomenon inherent to quantum field theory is true. Ethan Siegel, Forbes, 7 May 2021 Icelandic spars are crystals of calcium carbonate which have a special property called birefringence: light hitting the mineral is split and follows two parallel paths through it, which explains how calcite makes objects look doubled. Douglas Main, Discover Magazine, 4 Nov. 2011 Like ordinary cellophane, the birefringence can split light into separate directions, leading to weird optical illusions, distortions, and magnification—all from the simple presence of the magnetic field. Paul Sutter, Ars Technica, 17 June 2022 This produces something called a birefringence in the vacuum itself. Paul Sutter, Ars Technica, 17 June 2022 One of them is known as vacuum birefringence: the notion that a strong, external field can cause this type of polarization — the creation of an internal field — to empty space itself. Ethan Siegel, Forbes, 7 May 2021

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'birefringence.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History

Etymology

International Scientific Vocabulary bi- entry 1 + refringent refracting, from Latin refringent-, refringens, present participle of refringere to break up — more at refract

First Known Use

1879, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Time Traveler
The first known use of birefringence was in 1879

Dictionary Entries Near birefringence

Cite this Entry

“Birefringence.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/birefringence. Accessed 17 Jul. 2024.

Medical Definition

birefringence

noun
bi·​re·​frin·​gence ˌbī-ri-ˈfrin-jən(t)s How to pronounce birefringence (audio)
: the refraction of light in an anisotropic material in two slightly different directions to form two rays
also : the visual effect produced by birefringence
The diagnosis was made before scanning in 22 patients by the detection of deposits with apple-green birefringencePhilip N. Hawkins et al., The New England Journal of Medicine
birefringent adjective

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