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Polarization and 3D Cinema Technology Kit

  • Designed for Education, Demonstration, and Classroom Use
  • Easy-to-Use Kits Include Components Plus Educational Materials
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RealD 3D Technology
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The Polarization and 3D Cinema Technology Kit allows students to build their own 3D projector. The version shown here uses circular polarization and a pair of RealD 3D glasses to produce the 3D effect.
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Polarization and 3D Cinema Technology Kit

  • Designed for Educational, Demonstration, and Classroom Use
  • Complete Photonics Kit Includes All Hardware Except Voltmeter Plus Extensive Manual and Teaching Materials
  • Easy to Assemble and Use
  • Choose from Educational Kits Containing Imperial or Metric Components


  • Learn how to Generate and Measure Linear and Circular Polarizations of Light
  • Create a 3D Projection using Circularly Polarized Light Based on RealD™ Cinema Technology
  • Additional Experiments with Red-Cyan Anaglyph 3D Images and 3D Projection Using Linear Polarization
  • Measure the Rotation of the Polarization Angle of Light Passing through Optically Active Media

Thorlabs' Polarization and 3D Cinema Technology Kit includes several experiments to help students explore the concept of polarization and some of its common uses. This educational lab kit contains components to build three setups for viewing 3D images, including RealD 3D glasses and a piece of real cinema screen. Additional experiments explore some uses of polarization in industry, including determining the concentration of sugar dissolved in a liquid and mapping mechanical stress in materials.

Although some of the experiments require the use of a voltmeter, we have not included one in this educational kit since many physics labs are already stocked with them. For customers who would like to purchase a voltmeter to use with the kit, Thorlabs has a digital multimeter available here.

Thorlabs Educational Products

Thorlabs' line of educational products aims to promote physics, optics, and photonics by covering many classic experiments, as well as emerging fields of research. Each educational kit includes all the necessary components and a manual that contains both detailed setup instructions and extensive teaching materials. These lab kits are being offered at the price of the included components, with the educational materials offered for free. Technical support from our educational team is available both before and after purchase.

Purchasing Note: English and German language manuals/teaching information are available for this product. The imperial educational kit contains the English manual and US-style power cord. The appropriate manual and power cord will be included in the metric kit based on your shipping location. The power supplies and other electronic devices in both the metric and the imperial kit accept voltages of 230 VAC and 120 VAC. Some power supplies include a switch for selecting the mains voltage. See the respective manuals for details. Please contact Tech Support if you need a different language or cord style. As with all products on our website, taxes are not included in the price shown below.

RealD 3D Technology
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A schematic diagram of the RealD™ 3D technology. The light from the first slide is linearly polarized via a polarizer and then circularly polarized by passing through quarter-wave plate. After the light is reflected from the screen, the RealD glasses, each consisting of a quarter-wave plate and a polarizer, allow only the passage of the left circularly polarized light to one eye and the right circularly polarized light to the other.

Polarization Experiments

The Polarization and 3D Cinema Technology Kit includes components and instructions for building three 3D projection setups. The theory and tools to construct three other experiments that study the interaction of polarized light with optical elements such as wave plates and polarizers are also provided. Experiments include:

  • Measuring the Light Transmission Through Polarizers to Understand Malus' Law
  • Measuring the Polarization State of a Laser
  • Measuring the Sugar Concentation in a Beverage via Polarization Rotation
  • Examining Stress-Induced Birefringence
  • Examining the Properties of RealD™ 3D Glasses
  • Setting Up 3D Projections Using Three Methods
    • Red-Cyan Anaglyph Images
    • Linearly Polarized Light
    • RealD Method (Circularly Polarized Light)

Details of some of these experiments can be found below and a complete list of included activities is available on the Exercise List tab.

Polarization is a fundamental property of light. Understanding the generation and measurement of polarization and its possible applications is a standard topic in high school and university physics classes. This kit provides several experiments based on real-world uses of polarization to explore fundamental concepts. In the saccharimetry experiment, students can measure how the angle of rotation of linearly polarized light is affected by an optically active sugar solution and use this knowledge to determine the sugar content of soft drinks.

The kit also examines the technology that has been developed to produce stereoscopic images and 3D movies, including red-cyan anaglyph images, linear polarization, and circularly polarized light. Mounted slides, several types of 3D glasses, and a piece of real cinema screen are provided so that students can build their own 3D projection setup.

3D Cinema Technology

All stereoscopic projection methods are based on the same principle: the observed 3D image is actually composed of two images of the same object which are recorded from slightly different angles. Due to the spacing between our eyes, our right eye will naturally perceive an object from a different angle than our left eye. Our brains use this information to percieve depth in the world around us. 3D imaging techniques reproduce this effect by allowing each of the observer's eyes to view only one of two offset projected images. This can be achieved by using a pair of glasses with filters in place of lenses to block the left image from reaching the right eye and vice versa.

Quantum Eraser Interference Patterns
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A 3D anaglyph image can viewed on the screen using colored filters and red-cyan glasses. The kit includes components for several 3D projection methods, including linear polarizer glasses and the RealD™ 3D glasses commonly found in movie theaters.

Common techniques for producing 3D images include using a pair of color filters or filters that rely on the polarization state of the incident light (either linear or circular polarizations). Anaglyph images use two colors (often red and cyan) to produce a 3D effect, but distort the colors of the 3D scene. The use of orthogonal linear polarization states for each projected image avoids the problem of color distortion. However, if the viewer tilts their head, the polarizers in the 3D glasses will become misaligned with the polarization states of the two projected images, causing the viewer to see a double image.

Today, 3D projection that uses circular polarization is found in many movie theaters in the form of the licensed RealD™ technology. Advantages of this method include the ability to produce true-color 3D images that are not susceptible to ghost images or other visual artifacts.

Thorlabs' 3D Cinema Experiment

Thorlabs' Polarization and 3D Cinema Kit allows students to build 3D projectors that use each of the techniques mentioned above. First, students are introduced to the concepts of stereoscopic vision, the underlying principles of polarized light, and how each of the three 3D projection techniques works. To prepare students to apply the polarization-based 3D projection methods, a set of basic experiments on linear and circular polarization can be performed using the laser light source, polarizers, quarter-wave plates, and the three types of 3D glasses included with the kit.

Afterwards, they can use the kit to construct their own 3D projector. Advantages and disadvantages of each method can be worked out and experienced experimentally. In addition to red-cyan, linear polarizer, and RealD™ 3D glasses, a piece of silver-coated cinema screen allows students to produce high-quality 3D images.

Additional 3D Images can be downloaded from the 3D Image Gallery tab. The images can either be printed professionally at a specialty photo store or with any normal printer on transparencies (at a slightly lower quality). If you or your class have 3D images that you would like to share, submit your photos to us at and we'll consider them for addition to the image gallery.

Saccharimetery Experiments
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Students can build their own saccharimeter to determine the sugar concentration in popular soft drinks using a laser diode, polarizers, and photodetector.

Saccharimetry Experiment

When linearly polarized light is transmitted through an optically active sugar solution, the polarization vector is rotated by an angle that depends on the sugar concentration of the solution. Different types of sugars will also produce different characteristic angles of rotation. With the saccharimeter experiment included in this kit, students can measure the characteristic angle of rotation for cane sugar (sucrose) and use the results of their measurement to determine the sugar concentration of soft drinks.

Stress-Induced Birefringence
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Students can view the effects of stress-induced birefringence in an optics box by placing it in front of a computer screen (top) and then viewing it through a linear polarizer (bottom).

Complete Exercise List

Exercise 1: Place the two polarizers in front of the laser and adjust them so that their transmission axes are perpendicular to each other. Now, hold a third polarizer (film without holder) between the two crossed polarizers and rotate it. What do you observe and why?

Exercise 2: Demonstrate the validity of Malus' Law using a laser diode, three polarizers, photodetector, and voltmeter (not included).

Exercise 3: Measure the polarization state of the laser.

Exercise 4: Determine the midpoint between the slow and the fast axis of a quarter-wave plate (i.e. orientation of the slow axis at a 45° angle to the vertical).

Exercise 5: Place a polarizer and a quarter-wave plate in front of the laser. The slow and fast axes of the quarter-wave plate should be oriented at 45° with respect to the polarizer transmission axis. Now, demonstrate that the light of the green laser is circularly polarized after passing through the quarter-wave plate.

Exercise 6: If linearly polarized light passes through a sugar solution, then the angle through which the polarization is rotated is proportional to the concentration of the sugar solution and to the length of the light path through it. Determine the constant of proportionality.

Exercise 7: Determine the sugar content of a soft drink of your choice.

Exercise 8: There is now a "diet" or "zero" variant of many soft drinks. What do you expect for the rotation of polarization in this case?

Exercise 9: Use the plastic optics boxes and the polarizer to observe stress-induced birefringence.

Exercise 10: Examine other transparent objects/materials for stress-induced birefringence, such as bubble wrap (which changes when stressed) and glasses.

Exercise 11: Using a camera (not included), take photos of an object from two different perspectives to create an anaglyph image.

Exercise 12: Set up a red-cyan projection. Then learn for yourself that even a sheet of white paper can serve as a screen.

Exercise 13: Set up a 3D projection using linear polarizers. What are the problems of this method? What happens when an image is projected on white paper?

Exercise 14: Use a linearly polarized light source to explain how the 3D glasses are constructed.

Exercise 15: Put on the RealD glasses and stand in front of a mirror. Now close one eye. What do you observe and why?

Exercise 16: Determine the orientation of the polarizers in the glasses.

Exercise 17: Set up the 3D projection with the RealD method. Turn your head slightly and verify that the 3D effect is maintained.

3D Image Gallery

Thorlabs includes two pairs of slides for projecting 3D images with each kit: a photo of a plant and a photo of stones. Additional images can be downloaded below. The images can either be printed professionally at a specialty photo store or with any normal printer on transparencies (at a slightly lower quality). If you would like to share your own 3D images, you can submit them to and we'll consider them for addition to the image gallery.

3D Picnic Scene
Click to Enlarge

Download High-Resolution Left and Right Images
Courtesy of Sandra Kircher, Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (KIT)

Have you or your class taken a 3D Image that you would like to share? If so, e-mail your photos to us at and we'll consider them for addition to the image gallery.

Polarization and 3D Cinema Technology Kit Components

Polarization and 3D Cinema Technology Kit

Thorlabs' Polarization and 3D Cinema Technology Kits are available in imperial and metric versions. In cases where the metric and imperial kits contain parts with different item numbers, metric part numbers and measurements are indicated by parentheses unless otherwise noted.

Item # Description Qty.
3D Cinema Accessories
- Cinema Screen 1
- Red-Cyan Glasses 5
- Linear Polarizer 3D Glasses 4
- RealD™ Glasses 4
Lamp Assemblies
QTH10 (QTH10/M) Quartz Tungsten-Halogen Lamp 2
- Halogen Bulbs, 16 W, 230 lumen 2
HSLT2 Passive-Heat-Sink SM1 Lens Tube with External SM2 Threads 2
SM1CP2 Externally SM1-Threaded End Cap 2
Optics and Mounts
- LPVISE2X2 Linear Polarizer (Laser Cut into 3 Ø1" Circles) 1
RSP1D (RSP1D/M) Ø1" Rotating Polarizer Mount 2
SM1RR SM1-Threaded Retaining Ring 2
- Ø1" Quarter-Wave Plate 2
LM1-A Nested Ø1" Inner Lens Carriage 2
LM1-B (LM1-B/M) Nested Ø1" Lens Mount Outer Ring 2
LB1630 N-BK7 Bi-Convex Lens, Ø2", f = 100.0 mm, Uncoated 2
LMR2 (LMR2/M) Lens Mount for Ø2" Optics 2
- Pair of Slides for 3D Projection 2
FH2 Filter Holder for 2" Square Filters 2
FP02 Wide Plate Holder 1
LPVISE2X2 2" x 2" Linear Polarizer Sheet 1
Other Accessories
- Glass Basin 1
SPW606 SM1 Spanner Wrench, Length = 1" 1
Item # Description Qty.
Laser and Mount
CPS532-C2 532 nm Laser Diode Module, Class 2 1
LDS5 (LDS5-EC) 5 VDC Power Supply 1
VC1 (VC1/M) Small V-Clamp 1
Photodetector Assembly
SM05PD1A Silicon Photodiode, 350 - 1100 nm, Cathode Grounded 1
SM05M10 1" Long SM05 Lens Tube 1
Ø1/2" Slim Slip Ring for SM05 Lens Tubes,
8-32 (M4) Tapped Hole
CA2812 12" Long SMA Coaxial Cable, SMA Male to BNC Female 1
T1452 BNC Female to Binding Post 1
T3285 BNC Adapter - T Adapter (F-M-F) 1
FT502 5 kΩ Fixed Stub-Style BNC Terminator 1
SM05D5 Lever-Actuated Iris Diaphragm (Ø0.7 mm - Ø0.5 mm) 1
MB1224 (MB3060/M) Aluminum Breadboard, 12" x 24" (30 cm x 60 cm) 1
RDF1 4 Rubber Breadboard Feet 1
BA2 (BA2/M) Mounting Base, 2" x 3" x 3/8" (50 mm x 75 mm x 10 mm) 8
BA1S (BA1S/M) Mounting Base, 1" x 2.3" x 3/8" (25 mm x 25 mm x 10 mm) 6
BA1 (BA1/M) Mounting Base, 1" x 3" x 3/8" (25 mm x 75 mm x 10 mm) 1
TR3 (TR75/M) Ø1/2" (Ø12.7 mm) Mounting Post, 3" (75 mm) Long 14
PH3 (PH75/M) Ø1/2" (Ø12.7 mm) Post Holder, 3" (75 mm) Long 12
UPH3 (UPH75/M) Ø1/2" (Ø12.7 mm) Post Holder, 3" (75 mm) Long 2
AM4T (AM4T/M) 4° Angle Block 2

Imperial Kit: Included Hardware and Screws

Item # Description Qty.
BD-3/16L 3/16" Balldriver for 1/4"-20 Cap Screwsa 1
- 9/64" Hex Keya 1
- 7/64" Hex Keya 1
- 5/64" Hex Keya 1
SH25S050b 1/4"-20 Cap Screw, 1/2" Long 25
SH25S063b 1/4"-20 Cap Screw, 5/8" Long 25
SH25S075b 1/4"-20 Cap Screw, 3/4" Long 4
SH8S050b 8-32 Cap Screw, 1/2" Long 4
W25S050c 1/4" Washer 100
- 1/4" Nut 4
SD1d 1/4" Counterbore Adapter Ring for 8-32 Screws 10
  • Additional balldrivers and hex keys are available here.
  • This kit contains the number of screws indicated in the Qty. column; replacements, which are sold in packages of 25, are available by ordering the Item # listed.
  • This kit contains the number of washers indicated in the Qty. column; replacements, which are sold in packages of 100, are available by ordering the Item # listed.
  • This kit contains the number of counterbore adapters indicated in the Qty. column; replacements, which are sold in packages of 10, are available by ordering the Item # listed.

Metric Kit: Included Hardware and Screws

Item # Description Qty.
BD-5ML 5 mm Balldriver for M6 Cap Screwsa 1
- 2 mm Hex Keya 1
- 2.5 mm Hex Keya 1
- 3 mm Hex Keya 1
SH6MS12b M6 Cap Screw, 12 mm Long 25
SH6MS16b M6 Cap Screw, 16 mm Long 25
SH6MS20b M6 Cap Screw, 20 mm Long 4
SH4MS10b M4 Cap Screw, 12 mm Long 4
W25S050c M6 Washer 100
- M6 Nut 4
SD1d M6 Counterbore Adapter Ring for M4 Screws 10
  • Additional balldrivers and hex keys are available here.
  • This kit contains the number of screws indicated in the Qty. column; replacements, which are sold in packages of 25, are available by ordering the Item # listed.
  • This kit contains the number of washers indicated in the Qty. column; replacements, which are sold in packages of 100, are available by ordering the Item # listed.
  • This kit contains the number of counterbore adapters indicated in the Qty. column; replacements, which are sold in packages of 10, are available by ordering the Item # listed.

The EDU-3D1(/M) kit was awarded a certificate by the Association of Physics Undergraduate Laboratories (AGPP), a working group of the German Physical Society, for an innovative physical experiment developed and designed in a collaboration between a university and a commercial company. Click on the images below to view the English- or German-language versions of the award.

An early prototype of the EDU-3D1 was developed at the Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (KIT) by:

  • Dr. Antje Bergmann, Department of Theoretical Solid State Physics
  • Prof. Dr. Günter Quast, Department of Experimental Nuclear Physics
  • Andreas Hasenohr (Now: Josef-Durler School, Rastatt)

We cordially thank them for sharing their design and working with us on developing this kit.

Do you have ideas for an experiment that you would like to see implemented in an educational kit? Contact us at; we'd love to hear from you.

Posted Comments:
dortje.schirok  (posted 2015-12-03 15:42:28.853)
Liebe ThorLabs-Team, ich bin sehr interessiert an dem 3D-Kino-Kit, möchte aber nicht alle Komponenten bestellen. Kann ich auch Komponenten wie z.B. die Leinwand einzeln bestellen? Viele Grüße, Dortje Schirok Koordinatorin Light & Schools, Uni Hamburg
besembeson  (posted 2015-12-03 11:54:01.0)
Response from Bweh at Thorlabs USA: Thanks for your interest in this kit. You can also order individual components. Our Germany office will contact you regarding quoting the items you need.
c.maul  (posted 2015-09-07 16:27:36.747)
Bitte senden Sie mir ein Angebot fuer den Saccharimetrie-Aufbau. Christof Maul TU Braunschweig Institut für Physikalische und Theoretische Chemie Hans-Sommer-Str. 10 38106 Braunschweig
shallwig  (posted 2015-09-10 05:22:39.0)
This is a response from Stefan Thorlabs. Thank you very much for your inquiry. We will contact you directly send you the requested quote.
Based on your currency / country selection, your order will ship from Newton, New Jersey  
+1 Qty Docs Part Number - Imperial Price Available
EDU-3D1 Support Documentation
EDU-3D1Polarization and 3D Cinema Technology Kit, Imperial
+1 Qty Docs Part Number - Metric Price Available
EDU-3D1/M Support Documentation
EDU-3D1/MPolarization and 3D Cinema Technology Kit, Metric
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