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Waveplates (retarders) are made from birefringent materials which introduce a phase difference between the fast and slow principal axis of the waveplate, it can be used to control polarization state of polarized beam. When ordering the waveplate, we need to know the wavelength, retardation,size and type of waveplate(Zero order or Multi Order). The waveplates can install into metal mount according to customer requirments. Union Optic provides most common using wavelengths waveplates for customers, special wavelengths and special retardation waveplates such as lambda/8, lambda/20 and etc can also be provided upon request.Normally the waveplates are made from crystal quartz,the standard waveplates we provided include half waveplates and quarter waveplates, the main function as following:


Half Waveplate

When applying a linearly polarized beam to a half waveplate, it emerges as a linearly polarized beam but its polarization plane is rotated with respect to the polarization plane of the input beam. The rotation of the polarization plane is such that the angle between the input polarization and the output polarization is twice the angle between the input polarization and the waveplate's axis. When applying a circularly polarized beam, a clockwise circular polarization will transform into a counter-clockwise circular polarization and vice versa. Half waveplates are often used as continuously adjustable polarization rotators and as a variable ratio beamsplitter when used in conjunction with a polarization beamsplitter cube.

Quarter Waveplate

When applying a linearly polarized beam with the polarization plane aligned at 45deg to the waveplate's principal plane, the output beam will be circularly polarized. Similarly when applying a circularly polarized beam to a λ/4 waveplate the output beam will be linearly polarized. When a quarter waveplate is double passed, i.e. by mirror reflection, it acts as a half waveplate and rotates the plane of polarization to a certain angle. Quarter waveplates are widely used in creating circular polarization from linear or linear polarization from circular, ellipsometry, optical pumping, suppressing unwanted reflection, optical isolation and etc.

Waveplate Comparison

Waveplate Type
Structure
With Glue
Temperature Bandwidth
Wavelength Bandwidth
Retardation Tolerance
Parallelism
Damage Threshold
Other Features
Zero order Waveplate
Two Plate
Yes
Large
Wide
High
Good
Low

Two Plate
No
Large
Wide
Higher
Better
High

Two Plate
No
Large
Wide
Higher
Better
Higher

Cemented
Two Plate
Yes
Large
Wide
Higher
Better
Low

Single Plate
Single Plate
No
Larger
Wide
Higher
Better
Higher
Wide Acceptance Angle
Single Plate
No
Larger
Wide
Higher
Better
Higher
Wide Acceptance Angle
Single Plate
No
Low
Narrow
General
Better
Higher

Single Plate
No
Low
Narrow
General
Better
Higher

Single/Two Plate
No
Large
Wide
General
Better
High
Using in 2.5-6.0μm Range
Cemented
Two/Multi Plate
Yes
Large
Very broad
High
Good
Low

Air Spaced
Two/Multi Plate
No
Large
Very broad
High
Better
Higher

Wedge Waveplate
Two Plate
Yes
Large
Wide
Higher
/
Low
Eliminate Etalon effect


 
    

 

How to choose a waveplate?

Firstly, you should know the retardation, is it a half waveplate or a quarter waveplate? Or even a special retardation?
Then, you should know the size and working wavelength.
Last, you should choose a type of waveplate. If temperature bandwidth and wavelength bandwidth is important for you, you should choose zero order or true zero order. For zero order, optical contacted has better wavefront distortion and parallelism, air spaced has high damage threshold. True zero order is better than zero order waveplate at all parameters and can be used at more critical application. When temperature bandwidth and wavelength bandwidth is not a problem for you, multi order is a better choice, it is cheap. If a zero order or true zero order waveplate does not offer retardance over a wide enough wavelength band, one solution is to use an achromatic waveplate, it has over hundreds of nanometers bandwidth.

Sometimes, the waveplate has unwanted Etalon effect, in order to eliminate this effect, Union Optic offer Wedge Waveplate to solve this problem. For detailed information, please contact us.
Due to the rotation activity of natural quartz crystal, it also can be used as
polarization rotators so that the plane of input linearly polarized beam will be rotated at special angle which is determined by the thickness of quartz crystal. Left-handed and right-handed rotators can be offered by Union Optic now.


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