Laser 2000

Polymer Waveplates (Retarders)

Polymer materials offer a lower birefringence than quartz and can therefore be made into true zero-order retarders of reasonable thickness. They are much less sensitive to incidence angle than either multiple- or compound zero-order quartz retarders. Birefringence dispersion (or variation with wavelength) varies with each polymer material. This factor is an important consideration when manufacturing polymer retarders.

Waveplates can come as Bare Polymer Film Retarder BQ/BH and PQ/PH Series which provides a thermally stable, very thin retarder that is suitable for low cost, high volume requirements or where the polymer material is protected using a proprietary lamination process between optically flat windows. This assembly provides the transmitted wavefront quality necessary for precision optical applications.

Precision Retarders NH/NQ Series for the visible and NIR region provide true zero-order and excellent off-axis performance.

By precisely orientating and layering several polymer sheets we can make achromatic polymer retarders. These polymer stacks are then laminated between optical flats. Achromatic polymer retarders AQ/AH Series designed to provide nearly constant retardance over six distinct wavebands from 485nm to 1650nm.

For application that require ultra-broadband coverage our Superachromatic Retarders work over two ranges.  The AQS/AHS series provide quarter and half-wave retardation at 420 to 1100nm and the AQL/AHL for 800-1700nm.

When a retarder must have the same retardance at two wavelengths that are separated by a span too large for an achromatic retarder, then a dual wavelength retarder may be the answer. Traditionally these retarders have been made using crystal quartz and are multi-order retarders at both wavelengths. Our dual wavelength retarders use polymers instead. They are usually much lower order and consequently have a slower change in retardance with angle.  Some versions of dual wavelength retarders can also provide different specified retardances at two different wavelengths. With over 10,000 combinations! Please see our blog “Polarisation and Phase Manipulation with Retarders (or waveplates)” on how to order dual wavelength retarder.  Part number D R1 R2 – D – λ1 / λ2

For applications that require consistent retardance over a wide acceptance angle, out to 30 degrees we have a wide field retarders. Standard quarter‐ and half‐wave designs are available mounted WQM/WHM or unmounted WFQ/WFH (for common wavelengths in the visible to near infrared region. (400‐1800 nm)


Bare Polymer Film Retarder: BQ/BH
Bare Polymer Film Retarder: PQ/PH
Precision Retarders: NH/NQ
Achromatic polymer retarders: AQ/AH
Superachromatic Retarders: AQS/AHS
Dual wavelength retarder: D R1 R2 - D - λ1 / λ2
Wide field retarders: WQM/WHM and WFQ/WFH

Request a Demo

Polymer Waveplates (retarders)

Ask the Expert

If you’re interested in the products shown here, or have questions about something you can’t find on our website, please get in touch through the form below.

Our knowledgeable sales team will be happy to help. We can normally source exactly what you need, or work with you to come up with custom solutions.

Alternatively, just call +44 (0) 1933 461 666 and ask to speak to the Photonics team.