Definition of Nicol prism in English:

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Nicol prism

Pronunciation: /ˈnikəl ˌprizəm/


A device for producing plane-polarized light, consisting of two pieces of optically clear calcite or Iceland spar cemented together with Canada balsam in the shape of a prism.
Example sentences
  • The Nicol prism, which is made entirely of calcite, a doubly refracting mineral, isolates one beam cleanly.
  • The two beams, with two different planes of polarization, are then analyzed by another Nicol prism.
  • The aluminum handle used to rotate the Nicol prism assembly is clearly not original.


Mid 19th century: named after William Nicol (died 1851), the Scottish physicist who invented it.

For editors and proofreaders

Syllabification: Nic·ol prism

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