We present a novel setup that allows the observation of the geometric phase that accompanies polarization changes in monochromatic light beams for which the initial and final states are different (so-called non-cyclic changes). This Pancharatnam-Berry phase can depend in a linear or in a nonlinear fashion on the orientation of the optical elements, and sometimes the dependence is singular. Experimental results that confirm these three types of behavior are presented. The observed singular behavior may be applied in the design of optical switches.
(c) 2010 Optical Society of America.