The three-dimensional optical anisotropy of photo-buffed dye-doped polymer films and the resulting orientation imparted to a liquid crystal in contact are probed using total internal reflection. Although the linearly polarized writing light generates a uniaxial distribution of dye molecules, the polymer films are biaxial, a result of symmetry breaking by the film surface.
Analytical solution of Maxwell's equations is obtained for general linear optical materials: lossy and optically active crystals. Explicit expressions are obtained for the dispersion relation and the propagating eigenmodes. In general, four rather than two distinct modes are present. The results are useful in describing light propagation in optically complex media.