Multiple Order Waveplates
Consisting of a single plate of crystal quartz (nominally 0.5mm in thickness), multiple order waveplates are the least expensive of the three types. Their retardation changes versus temperature, and changes substantially versus wavelength. They are a good choice for use with monochromatic light in a climate-controlled environment. They are typically coupled with a laser in a laboratory. In contrast, applications such as mineralogy exploit the chromatic shift (retardance versus wavelength change) inherent in multiple order waveplates.
Zero Order Waveplates
As their total retardation is a small percentage of the multiple order type, the retardation for zero order waveplates is far more constant with respect to temperature and wavelength variations. In situations requiring greater stability or requiring greater temperature excursions, zero order waveplates are the ideal choice. Application examples include observing a broadened spectral wavelength, or taking measurements with an instrument used in the field.
Due to the compensation of two materials, achromatic waveplates are far more constant than even zero order waveplates. If the situation covers several spectral wavelengths or an entire band (from violet to red, for example), achromatic waveplates are the ideal choices.
Choosing the right waveplates for a specific application can be challenging, so our technical support team is available to assist you in the decision.