I’ve read, that essentially there exist three types of reflections in Physics:
- Total Internal Reflection (See Below)
Metallic reflections (almost) tend to preserve the polarization of the light (except for what’s written below), while non-metallic reflections tend to polarize the light. The latter are also the basis for “polarizing mirrors”.
Beam-splitters are essentially polarizing mirrors:
- When randomly-polarized light hits them, the deflected beam will be plane-polarized in one direction, while the transmitted beam will contain, what the deflected beam does not contain.
- When circularly-polarized light hits them, nothing really prevents them from splitting the beam.
- When plane-polarized light hits them, depending on the angle of polarization, the amplitude of one emerging beam can become much lower, than that of the other. This is probably also why, linear polarizers can interfere with the physical auto-focus of a DSLR-camera.
(Edit 02/25/2018 :
Even though the articles I gave above ‘seem complete’, only today I’ve learned that they need to be modified. Specifically, the deflected beam is only polarized perfectly, when the incident beam strikes a non-metallic mirror at Brewster’s Angle. And I have no reason to think, that this account is wrong. )
From what I read, reflection, according to the particle depiction, takes place, because photons couple with plasmons, to form surface-polaritons.
From what I read, refraction takes place, according to the particle depiction, because photons couple with excitons, to form photon-excition polaritons.
(Updated 02/27/2018 : )