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Optically Contacted Zero Order Waveplates

  • Optically contacted, glue-free structure
  • Wide operational wavelength range and high temperature-stability
  • High damage threshold (>500 MW/cm2) and eminent surface flatness
  • Wavelength range: 200-2000nm for Quartz and 190-7000nm for MgF2
  • Anti Reflection Coating (R<0.2%)
  • Better retardation steadiness than low order waveplates
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Material Quartz Wavelength Range190-7000mm
Dimension Tolerance ±0.1mm Surface Quality 20/10 S/D
Parallelism <1 arc sec Retardation Tolerance < λ/500
Clear Aperture >90% Damage Threshold >500 MW/cm2
Coating AR coating Mount Black Anodized Aluminium

Modules or Types:

Standard Wavelength:

355nm, 532nm, 632.8nm, 780nm, 808nm, 850nm, 980nm, 1064nm, 1310nm, 1480nm, 1550nm

  • Optically Contacted
  • AR Coated, R<0.2%
  • High Damage Threshold
  • Better Temperature Band width
  • Wide Wavelength Bandwidth


Zero Order Waveplates-Optically Contacted
Quarter Waveplates P/N # Half Waveplates P/N # Diameter (mm )
WPO410 WPO210 10
WPO412 WPO212 12.7
WPO415 WPO215 15
WPO420 WPO220 20
WPO425 WPO225 25
WPO430 WPO230 30
Zero Order Waveplate, consisting of Quartz or Magnesium Fluoride Waveplate with their optical axes orthogonally aligned, is a preferable candidate for applications requiring higher wavelength and temperature stability than low order or multiple order waveplates. Unlike multiple order waveplates which produce the designated fractional retardation together with a few numbers of full wavelength retardations, Zero Order Waveplates produce exactly the retardation of interest. A Zero Order Waveplate is constructed with the fast axis of one plate aligned with the slow axis of the other. And the net retardation gained is a function of the thickness difference between the two plates. Utilizing the double waveplates structure, a Zero Order Waveplate effectively offsets the unfavorable sensibility of retardation, since the disturbing retardation shifts in the first plate will be compensated after light emerges from the second plate, thus making Zero Order Waveplates substantially far less sensitive to changes in temperature and wavelength than their multi-order counterparts. However, changes in the angle of incidence will still affect the phase delay.

The surfaces of an optically contacted waveplate are polished with high precision to obtain extremely high surface quality( parallelism<1 arc sec) , so that the two plates stick together under the effect of intermolecular forces instead of using glues. Without glue, binder, or any other adhesives, optically contacted waveplates could maintain the physical and optical qualities as good as bulk solid. Also, the absence of adhesive reduces the risk of the blurring of the aperture resulting from the melting of glue if temperatures are high.  However, note that superior surface quality also implies higher sensitivity to contaminations and scratches. Although the high precision polishing required for an Optically Designed Structure necessitates a rigorous manufacturing procedure, thus inevitably raising the production cost, you could still buy at fairly cost-effective prices in Shalom EO. 

Hangzhou Shalom EO provides Zero Order Half Waveplates, Zero Order Quarter Waveplates, and Zero Order Octadic Waveplates. Half Zero Order Waveplates, with retardation of lambda/2, could rotate the polarization plane of linearly polarized light. Quarter Zero Order Waveplates are often selected to transform linearly polarized light into circularly polarized light and vice versa. Whereas An Octadic Waveplate produces a retardation of lambda/8, it is extensively incorporated in applications of nonlinear optical systems, optical time-multiplexing systems, optical sensors, special interferometer, synchronous phase shifters, etc.

Optcially Contacted Zero Order Waveplates made from Quartz (suitable for the wavelength range 200-2000nm), or Magnesium Fluoride (MgF2) (suitable for the wavelength range 190-7000nm) are available in custom versions.


Here are some typical questions and answers about waveplates that might be helpful for buyers. The contents below are a summarized version, please check our Introduction to Waveplates and Retarders if you want to learn more.

How does a waveplate work?

Waveplates and Retarders are important optical components to manipulate and alter the polarization state of laser light. 

Waveplates are conventionally made by birefringent crystals such as Quartz, Magnesium Fluoride. (There are also Retarders made from non-birefringent materials. The Fresnel Rhomb Retarder is an excellent example, which is usually made from BK7, UV Fused Silica, or ZnSe, realizing the phase delay by utilizing the Total Internal Reflection. The retardation generated by a Fresnel Rhomb depends virtually solely on the refractive index and the geometries of the prism. )

The anisotropy of these crystal materials results in the separation of one light beam into two light rays when hitting the interface. The two split light rays encounter different refractive indices: one called the Ordinary Ray, which is governed by the ordinary refractive index, and another called the Extraordinary ray, which is governed by the direction-sensitive extraordinary refractive index. The two rays always have their polarization direction perpendicular to each other.

Waveplates are purposefully sliced so that their optical surface is parallel to their optical axis. The ordinary ray and the extraordinary ray will experience different refractive indices and hence travel in different phase velocities. The axis in which the polarized electric vector travels with a greater velocity (Vfast=c/Nfast) is defined as the Fast axis. The one in which the electric vector travels with a lower velocity (Vslow=c/Nslow) is the Slow axis. The two axes are always orthogonal.

When a light beam is projected normal to the surface of a waveplate, different phase velocities of the two components will naturally introduce phase delay between the fast and the slow components, where the slow components will be several phases (or a fraction of phase) lagged behind the fast component. The magnitude of the phase delay is called Retardation. The retardation of a waveplate could be formulated as below:


Where L is the distance traveled by the incident light (the thickness of the waveplate), Nfast and Nslow are the refractive indices along the fast and slow axis respectively. 

The value of retardation might be written in various forms, for example, a “half-wave” retardation is equivalent to a retardation value of π radians or lambda/2.

From the equation above, it could be easily deduced that by deliberately designing the thickness of the waveplates, the desired retardation could be obtained. However, besides the thickness of a waveplate, other external factors will affect the retardtion value, for example, the wavelengths of the incident light, the temperature of the operation environment, the angle of incidence, etc. The changes of retardation caused by external factors are often disturbing and detrimental and are what the manufacturers trying their best to avoid.

Finding the Axes?

Finding the fast axis of each waveplate is a critical step when using the waveplates. The mounted waveplates offered by Shalom EO are all designed with their fast axes indicated as a straight light on the mount. While the fast axis of the unmounted versions is all marked directly on the waveplates. However, it might be possible that the axes are not indicated or the indications are blurred, there is a simple method to help you find the axes which apply for waveplates with all values of retardations. First, place a polarizer in front of the laser device, tilt the polarizer until the light is extinct, then interpose the waveplate between the laser device and the polarizer, rotate the waveplate so that the eventual light output is still extinct——and viola! you have found an axis successfully! 


Additionally, It might happen that you find the waveplates you bought might not produce exactly the designed retardation. There are plenty of reasons: e.g. the waveplates are not designed for your wavelength of interest, or there are external factors such as temperature affecting the retardation. The small deviations could be modified by rotating the plane of polarization towards the fast or slow axis of the waveplate. Moving towards the fast axis reduces the retardation while moving towards the fast axis raises the retardation. Try both directions and keep checking the improvements using polarizers.

Retardation Curves:

The following graphs illustrate the retardation of Zero Order Waveplates over the wavelength ranges

1. 355nm Zero Order Half Waveplates and Quarter Waveplates

355nm Zero Order Half Waveplates and Quarter Waveplates retardation curve

2. 532nm Zero Order Half Waveplates and Quarter Waveplates

532nm Zero Order Half Waveplates and Quarter Waveplates retardation curve

3. 633nm Zero Order Half Waveplates and Quarter Waveplates

633nm Zero Order Half Waveplates and Quarter Waveplates retardation curve

4. 780nm Zero Order Half Waveplates and Quarter Waveplates

780nm Zero Order Half Waveplates and Quarter Waveplates retardation curve

5. 800nm Zero Order Half Waveplates and Quarter Waveplates

800nm Zero Order Half Waveplates and Quarter Waveplates retardation curve

6. 1030nm Zero Order Half Waveplates and Quarter Waveplates

1030nm Zero Order Half Waveplates and Quarter Waveplates retardation curve

7. 1064nm Zero Order Half Waveplates and Quarter Waveplates

1064nm Zero Order Half Waveplates and Quarter Waveplates retardation curve

8. 1310nm Zero Order Half Waveplates and Quarter Waveplates

1310nm Zero Order Half Waveplates and Quarter Waveplates retardation curve

9. 1550nm Zero Order Half Waveplates and Quarter Waveplates

1550nm Zero Order Half Waveplates and Quarter Waveplates retardation curve

Buyer's guide to Waveplates and Retarders

waveplate selection guide

Understanding different types of Waveplates and Retarders are equally as important as figuring out their working principle, especially for buyers. Don’t worry, Shalom EO edited a brief guide for you, after reading that you might have a much clarified and profound understanding of waveplates.

Low Order Waveplates or Multiple Order Waveplates

Due to difficulties in the manufacturing stage, it could be hard to churn out large quantities of waveplates that are ultra-thin and which produce exactly the desired fractional retardance. The Low Order Waveplates, Or Multiple Order Waveplates are relatively thick and generate the desired retardation with several additional wavelengths of phase delay. Because light waves repeat themselves periodically, a low order half waveplate, which produces a phase delay of lambda/2 plus 3 additional lambdas could also function as a half waveplate. The word “Order” here refers to the number of additional wavelengths generated. In this text, a low order waveplate is better than multiple order waveplates because it produces less addition phase delay and its retardation is more precise. However, the surplus of retardation also implies that they are much more sensitive to changes in wavelengths, temperature, or the AOI than their zero order counterparts. 

Generally speaking, if you are looking for cheap buying-in-bulk waveplates for single wavelength applications, then Low Order Waveplates are just right for you. Shalom EO offers Low Order Waveplates of two material options (Quartz for Visible to Near-IR spectral or MgF2 for greater wavelengths up to 7000nm). 

Zero Order Waveplates

Zero Order Waveplates are essentially comprised of two multiple order or low order waveplates with their axes orthogonally aligned (aligning the fast axis of one waveplate to the slow axis of the another), the resulting retardation is the difference between two individual retardations produced by respectively by the two constituent waveplates. By combining two single waveplates together, Zero Order Waveplates effectively offset the impacts of external factors (wavelength change, ambient temperature) on the retardation, which means the retardation will be much more constant compared to the low order waveplates, making them competent for applications involving broadened wavelength. Nevertheless, they might still have rather susceptive responsiveness to variations of the angle of incidence. 

Shalom EO offers three types of Zero Order Waveplates: Air spaced Zero Order WaveplatesOptically Contacted Zero Order Waveplates and NOA61 Cemented Zero Order Waveplates. While the cemented zero order waveplates are the common alternative, for high energy operations, consider Air spaced zero order waveplates and optically contacted zero order waveplates, since the two types have relatively higher damage threshold than the cemented versions.

True Zero Order Waveplates

True Zero Order Waveplates are waveplates of single-plate structure and provide exactly the required retardation, therefore its thickness is usually only several micrometers. Although requiring relatively strict processing, the contracted thickness contributes to more superior retardation constancy against wavelength variations or climate changes than conventional Zero Order Waveplates. Shalom EO offers True Zero Order Waveplates made from Quartz (for 532-3000nm) or MgF2 (for long-wavelength applications from 3000-7000nm), the single plate versions are relatively fragile but are of high damage threshold, while the versions cemented with BK7 substrates are much easy to handle, but are of lower damage threshold.

Achromatic Waveplates

Achromatic Wavepltes are constructed by one MgF2 Waveplate and one Quartz Waveplates with their axes orthogonally aligned, of which the birefringent properties are complementary, achieving the required focal length while minimizing chromatic dispersion. Through this approach the intrinsic influence of wavelength shifts on the retardation is drastically reduced, making achromatic waveplates even more retardation-constant than zero order waveplates, thus eminent for various Broadband applications spanning wide spectral ranges (e.g. from 900-2000nm). Two application examples are Tunable laser sources, Femtosecond laser systems, etc.

Super Achromatic Waveplates

Super Achromatic Waveplates are virtually an upgraded version of achromatic waveplates. The operation principle of super achromatic waveplates is the same as that described of achromatic waveplates. Super achromatic waveplates are also compounded by two crystal materials (e.g. quartz and magnesium fluoride), but instead of two as in the case of achromatic waveplates, they consists of six single waveplates (three of Quartz, three of MgF2), the result is exceedingly flat retardation over even wider wavelength ranges. 

Fresnel Rhomb Retarders 

Fresnel Rhomb Retarders operates upon an entirely different principle other than exploiting the birefringence. A Fresnel Rhomb introduces phase difference between the components of light using total internal reflection. When light is projected on the interface, the electric field of the light wave splits into two perpendicular components, the s component, and the p component. The rhombs are strategically processed into the shape of a right parallelepiped, so that with the angle of incidence cautiously chosen, the p component will proceed lambda/8 relative to the s component at each total internal reflection underwent. When light emerges, after experiencing two total internal reflections, the p component will eventually be lambda/4 ahead of the s component, thus realizing the same function of a Quarter Waveplate. When constructing a Half Wave Fresnel Rhomb Retarder, two rhombs are cemented in tandem to avert reflections at the interface.

The Fresnel Rhombs are usually made from glass materials, which are non-birefringent, the typical three being BK7, UV Fused Silica or ZnSe. Because the retardation introduced by the rhomb is related to the refractive index, which only varies slightly over a wide wavelength range, the Fresnel Rhomb Retarders have even broader wavelength capabilities than other broadband waveplates such as achromatic waveplates. 

Dual Wavelength Waveplates

Dual Wavelength Waveplates introduce two retardation values for two wavelengths through the fitting of the refractive index at different wavelengths. Dual Wavelength Waveplates are particularly useful when used in conjunction with other polarization-sensitive components to separate coaxial laser beams of different wavelengths or elevate and promote the conversion efficiency of Solid State SHG Lasers. Additionally, Dual Wavelength Waveplates could also be applied to THG Systems. Triple Wavelength Waveplates could also be customized by Shalom EO at your request.