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Published March 1, 2013 | Published
Journal Article Open

Scientific Verification of Faraday Rotation Modulators: Detection of Diffuse Polarized Galactic Emission


The design and performance of a wide bandwidth linear polarization modulator based on the Faraday effect is described. Faraday Rotation Modulators (FRMs) are solid-state polarization switches that are capable of modulation up to 10 kHz. Six FRMs were utilized during the 2006 observing season in the Background Imaging of Cosmic Extragalactic Polarization (BICEP) experiment; three FRMs were used at each of BICEP's 100 and 150 GHz frequency bands. The technology was verified through high signal-to-noise detection of Galactic polarization using two of the six FRMs during four observing runs in 2006. The features exhibit strong agreement with BICEP's measurements of the Galaxy using non-FRM pixels and with the Galactic polarization models. This marks the first detection of high signal-to-noise mm-wave celestial polarization using fast, active optical modulation. The performance of the FRMs during periods when they were not modulated was also analyzed and compared to results from BICEP's 43 pixels without FRMs.

Additional Information

© 2013 American Astronomical Society. Received 2012 December 2; accepted 2013 January 16; published 2013 February 15. S.M. gratefully acknowledges the American Association of University Women for a fellowship supporting this research. B.G.K. also acknowledges NSF PECASE Award No. AST-0548262. G.R. gratefully acknowledges support by the NASA Science Mission Directorate via the US Planck project. BICEP is supported by NSF grant OPP-0230438, Caltech Discovery Fund, Caltech Presidents Fund PF-471, JPL Research and Technology Fund, and the late J. Robinson.

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