Nicol prism

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Invented in 1828 by William Nicol (1770–1851) of Edinburgh.


Nicol prism (plural Nicol prisms)

  1. (optics) An optical device used to generate polarized light.
    • 2006, Thomas Pynchon, Against the Day, Vintage 2007, p. 155:
      “You are in mortal danger,” declared their Scientific Officer, Dr. Counterfly, a scholarly sort, bearded and bundled like the rest of them, his eyes concealed by a pair of ingenious goggles, whose lenses proved to be matched pairs of Nicol prisms which could be rotated so as to control precisely the amount of light admitted to each eye.