Elliptical polarization is a combination of linear and circular polarization, in which the wave oscillates in an elliptical pattern.
Plane polarization (sometimes called linear polarization) refers to waves that oscillate in a single plane, such as waves that are vertically or horizontally polarized.
Plane polarization in detail
Plane polarizing filters only allow waves with a certain orientation of their electric field to pass through.
Plane polarizing filters block all the waves where the electric field is not orientated with the polarizing plane.
To visualize plane polarization:
Imagine pushing a large sheet of card through a window fitted with close-fitting vertical bars.
Only by aligning the card with the slots between the bars can it pass through. Align the card at any other angle and its path is blocked.
Now substitute the alignment of the electric field of an electromagnetic wave for the sheet of card, and plane polarization for the bars on the window.
Objects and phenomena that can cause plane polarization include:
Polarizers (polarizing filters): Polarizers selectively transmit light of a certain polarization while blocking light of other polarizations. They can be made from materials such as polarizing film or a grid of fine wires.
Reflection: When light reflects off a non-metallic surface at an angle, it can become plane-polarized. This is because the electric field of the reflected light is perpendicular to the plane of incidence.
Scattering: When light is scattered by small particles, such as dust or molecules in the atmosphere, it can become polarized. This is because the scattered light waves are preferentially oriented in certain directions.
Liquid crystals: Liquid crystals are materials that can change their optical properties in response to an applied electric field. They are used in displays such as LCD screens to selectively polarize light in order to create an image.
About plane polarization & rainbows
Plane polarization is one of the optical effects that account for the appearance of rainbows.