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The Kerr effect is a phenomenon in which the refractive index of a material changes because of an applied electrical field, and the change in the refractive index is proportional to the square of the applied electric field. The Kerr effect is best observed in materials known as Kerr mediums, centrosymmetric materials like liquids, gases and some crystals, although most materials show the Kerr effect to some extent when subjected to an electrical field.
The Kerr effect has been applied to digital photography to create a type of shutter with very short exposures and rapid reaction.
The Kerr effect is also known as the quadratic electro-optic effect (QEO effect).