Polarization Coupling Cube-Corner Retro-Reflectors

Technology #ua06-008

Questions about this technology? Ask a Technology Manager

Download Printable PDF

Karlton Crabtree
Research Scientist, Optical Sciences
Russell Chipman
Professor, Optical Sciences
Managed By
Amy Phillips
Sr. Licensing Manager (520) 621-9579

 Title: Polarization Coupling Cube-Corner Retro-Reflectors


Invention: This technology is a cube corner retro-reflector that includes three mutually perpendicular reflecting planes arranged in a pyramidal configuration. At least one of the reflecting planes has a non-isotropic surface, causing a polarization state of a ray exiting the cube corner retro-reflector to be orthogonal or substantively orthogonal to a polarization state of a ray entering the cube corner retro-reflector for all linear polarization orientations. The retro-reflected light is close to 100%  as a result.


Background: Most retro-reflectors lose approximately 75% of the incident light or are complex.  Polarization coupling has rarely exceeded 80%.  For a lower power, less complex system, that more efficiently delivers light to the detector, a new design is needed for retro-reflectors.



•       Automotive stamping, body, paint, and assembly

•       Manufacturing line quality control

•       Laser range finding and satellite tracking

•       Free-space optical telecommunications



•       Allows nearly 100% of retro-reflected light to hit detector without a quarter-wave plate

•       Returned polarization state orthogonal to incident state

•       Can use lower light power compared to conventional retro-reflector systems


Licensing Manager:

Amy Phillips; AmyP@tla.arizona.edu

Refer to Case Number UA06-008