Tunable optical filter - US 6339492 B1
The present invention relates to a tunable optical filter having a variable wavelength characteristic of transmittance. The tunable optical filter includes first and second polarizers each having a transmission axis determining a polarization axis of transmitted polarized light, a birefringent element having an optic axis determining a phase difference given between two orthogonal components of transmitted polarized light, and a Faraday rotator for giving a variable Faraday rotation angle to transmitted polarized light. The birefringent element and the Faraday rotator are provided between the first and second polarizers. The order of arrangement of the birefringent element and the Faraday rotator, and the relative positional relation between the optic axis of the birefringent element and the transmission axis of each polarizer are set so that the shape of a characteristic curve giving a wavelength characteristic of transmittance changes along a transmittance axis according to a change in the Faraday rotation angle.