When reflectors with layers are used at non-normal incidence, the two planes of polarization generally have different phase shifts. The difference in the shifts is known as phase retardance. For prisms with a single layer, this retardance depends on four factors: prism index, layer index, the ratio of the optical thickness of the layer to the wavelength, and angle of incidence. When the retardance is kept at zero and the reflectance for both p and s components of a polarized light are controlled at almost 100% after reflection, a polarization-preserving total reflection is realized. Polarization-preserving totally reflecting prisms (PPTRP’s) have many applications in scientific research and optical engineering. Designers of the PPTRP’s need references concerning the phase properties of the PPTRP’s. However, few papers can be found in which the effects of the four factors on the retardance of the PPTRP’s were investigated and compared thoroughly, although the theory concerned has been known and the influences from some (not all) factors have been reported. Therefore it is still necessary to study the behavior of the PPTRP’s from all aspects. The effects of all four factors on the retardance are analyzed and compared from all aspects. A general method of designing PPTRP’s is proposed. As an example, a special PPTRP is designed and both theoretical and experiment results are given.
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