The effects of changes in temperature, wavelength, and direction of propagation (angle of incidence) on the retardance of zero-order, multiple-order, compound zero-order, and temperature-compensated waveplates are described in detail. A disagreement in the literature regarding the properties of a compound zero-order waveplate is resolved by showing that with respect to temperature and wavelength it behaves like a true zero-order waveplate, but with respect to angle of incidence it behaves like a multiple-order waveplate. A previously proposed temperature-compensated design is shown to suffer from the same directional limitations. A new design for a retarder consisting of one element of a positive uniaxial crystal and one element of a negative uniaxial crystal is proposed. The retardance of such a waveplate would be much less sensitive to the direction of propagation, but somewhat more sensitive to temperature, than a typical compound zero-order waveplate.
© 1988 Optical Society of AmericaPDF Article