With a crossed polarizer and analyser the rings are interrupted by a dark hyperbolic brush that cuts the plane of the optic axes at right angles, if this plane be at 45° to the planes of polarization and analysation - the so-called diagonal position - and that becomes a rectangular cross with its arms parallel and perpendicular to the plane of the optic axes when this plane coincides with the plane of primitive or final polarization - the normal position.
This is a plate made of two equal wedges of quartz, that can be moved over one another so as to vary its thickness, and are cut so that the faces of the plate are parallel to the optic axis, which in the first wedge is perpendicular and in the second is parallel to the refracting edge.
In many cases the stand is also movable round the optic axis.
On these principles Airy, by an elaborate mathematical investigation, successfully explained the interference patterns obtained with plates of quartz perpendicular to the optic axis.
This refractive index should be equal to the greatest index of the plate, and with a biaxal plate the mean axis of optical symmetry should be parallel to its faces and in the normal section of the prisms, while with an uniaxal plate the optic axis should be in a plane perpendicular to this normal section.