Thorlabs Introduces New UV-Visible Achromatic Wave Plates

Achromatic wave plates

Thorlabs new line of achromatic wave plates

September 14, 2012

Newton, NJ – September 14, 2012. Thorlabs has announced the release of its new line of achromatic wave plates, which are designed for use in the 260 – 410 nm range, making it one of the first to offer a high-performance wave plate capable of reaching into the UV wavelength range. To manufacture an achromatic wave plate for use into the UV, Thorlabs utilized a compound plate design of quartz and sapphire; this plate design is advantageous for its manufacturability, high durability, and unparalleled wide field of view (FOV).

Achromatic wave plates are constructed from at least two birefringent materials, typically quartz and MgF2. Through precise engineering of material thickness and proper choice of birefringent material, an achromatic wave plate can be engineered to provide constant retardance over a wavelength range of interest. However, to fabricate a wave plate from quartz and MgF2 that is capable of operation at the intersection of the ultraviolet and visible wavelength ranges, the required plate thicknesses would need to be so thin that complications with manufacturing and metrology would arise. One potential solution is to use more than two plates. However, since both quartz and MgF2 are positive uniaxial crystals (i.e., ne > no), the FOV for this design would be significantly reduced.

Hence, to engineer an achromatic wave plate for use in the 260 – 410 nm range while ensuring industry-leading performance, Thorlabs utilizes a compound plate of quartz and sapphire. This design is not only manufacturable but also leads to a much wider FOV than other materials due to the fact that sapphire is a negative uniaxial crystal. Additionally, since sapphire is a much harder material than MgF2, our new quartz-sapphire wave plates are much more durable and more resistant to scratching. Thorlabs’ quartz-sapphire wave plates are among its 12,000 stocked items. Same-day shipping is available, significantly reducing the time required to receive the optic.

Thorlabs, an active member of the Photonics community for over 20 years, manufactures equipment for the photonics industry, including optomechanics, optics, laser diodes, tunable lasers, fiber optics, optical detectors, motion control equipment, and vibration isolation systems.

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