Generalized ellipsometry determines the complex electromagnetic planewave response of general optical systems in terms of Jones or Mueller matrix elements, regardless of sample anisotropy. It also enables characterization of the optical and structural properties of general anisotropic systems, including absorption, and can be applied, for instance, to determine the linear dielectric response tensors including frame-of-reference orientations of birefringent materials in layered samples for wavelengths from the far infrared to the deep ultraviolet. Generalized ellipsometry permits exploration of major indexes of refraction and extinction coefficients of low-symmetry materials as functions of wavelength, providing insight into physical phenomenons in layered anisotropic mediums. Precise structural and optical data of novel compound materials can be obtained. A brief presentation of the generalized ellipsometry approach using Jones and Mueller matrixes is given, and data acquisition and analysis are discussed. Examples illustrate a broad range of applicability. Determination of optical constants for orthorhombic absorbing bulk materials is demonstrated. Measurement and assignment of phonon modes in wurtzite-type films on low-symmetry substrates is discussed. Fundamental band-to-band transitions in spontaneously ordered semiconductor compounds, geometry and optical constants of chiral liquid crystal cells, and magneto-optic birefringence in free-carrier plasmas are obtained from analysis of generalized ellipsometry data and subsequent model analysis.
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