Real vs. Ideal Beam Splitters in a Mach-Zehnder with VirtualLab Fusion

The Mach-Zehnder interferometer, invented in the early 1890s, soon became one of the most popular interferometric setups and is still today applied for certain applications. Due to its characteristic well-separated light paths, which are traversed only once, it is a highly configurable instrument (in contrast to e.g. the Michelson interferometer). Two 50:50 beam splitters are used to split a collimated beam into two parts and to subsequently superimpose them back together at the exit. VirtualLab Fusion enables the detailed modeling of the system, including the two 90° phase shifts caused by the real beam splitters. 

Mach-Zehnder Interferometer

A Mach-Zehnder interferometer is set up in VirtualLab Fusion. It is demonstrated how the tilt and shift of a sample component affects the interference fringes. 

Observation of Complementary Interference Pattern in a Mach-Zehnder Interferometer with Prism Beam Splitter

The different behavior of idealized and real prism beam splitters is investigated. The additional phase shift introduced by the prisms leads to the complementary interference patterns.

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