New experimental possibilities of detecting fine optical anomalies in uniaxial crystals are demonstrated on a level with numerical estimation of refractive index and mechanical stress variations that cause distortions of the optical indicatrix. New possibilities are due to the use of an exact equation for isochromes derived for uniaxial crystals without mathematical simplifications commonly used by other authors. It allows one to calculate and graphically reproduce the theoretical form of isochromes of any orders in the conoscopic picture of an ideal crystal with known principal refractive indices, the thickness and orientation of the crystal surfaces, and also the wavelength of the radiation and the parameters of the optical circuit. A computer comparison of the theoretical image with an experimental conoscopic picture of a real crystal, fixed by a color digital camera on a semitransparent screen, is performed. The data on the variations of refractive indices and mechanical stresses in the crystal are retrieved from the mathematical processing of differences in the conoscopic images. The applications of the proposed method for the analysis of optical homogeneity of paratellurite and lithium niobate single crystals are presented.
Keywords: method of conoscopy, isochromes, piezo-optic effect