Technology for Polarization Measurement

Company History

Founded over 4 decades ago, Hinds Instruments, Inc. co-pioneered with the late Professor James Kemp, physicist at the University of Oregon, the development of photoelastic modulators (PEMs) for the advanced measurement of a wide range of polarization properties important to academic and industry researchers and professionals worldwide.

Professor Kemp used the PEM to measure the polarization of light emitted from stars, thereby proving the existence of magnetic “white dwarf” stars. This discovery provided the evidence used to award the Nobel Prize in physics to an astronomer at the University of Chicago (Chandraheskar) who had predicted the existence of such stars more than 40 years earlier. Building on Dr. Kemp’s frequently-cited and award-winning astrophysical work, Hinds Instruments developed and sold the first commercial versions of the PEM in the early 1970s.

Over the next couple of decades, the company developed a body of important PEM IP and technology, including a broad PEM product line. Significant contributions were made that have enabled notable advances in basic scientific research and industry, including optical lithography, CD spectroscopy, tokamak plasma monitoring, and many others.

More recently, the company’s scientists and engineers have extended the powerful utility of polarization modulation to systems dedicated to specific applications, including Exicor® birefringence measurement for flat panel display and other precision optics, polarization extinction ratio systems, 2-MGEM Ellipsometry systems for nuclear fuel OPTAF measurement, complete and partial Mueller matrix measurement systems, and more.

During the same period, the company has introduced a series of instruments that benefit both PEM and stand-alone applications, including high sensitivity photoamplifier and avalanche photodiode detectors, dual phase analog lock-in amplifiers, powerful event timing synchronizers, etc.


Columbia Weather Systems (CWS) is a subsidiary of Hinds Instruments, Inc. which began manufacturing Capricorn weather stations in the early 1980s. The "Capricorn" was immediately popular and developed an early reputation for reliability. To provide better focus and optimize resources, Hinds spun off the weather station division and formed Columbia Weather Systems in 1998.

Headquartered in Hillsboro, Oregon, CWS manufactures the Orion, Magellan, and Capricorn lines of weather stations and distribute them around the world. Key markets include professionals in public safety, military, government and industry.