Abstract

The complex reflection coefficient for the p polarization of a transparent film on an absorbing or transparent substrate can be made equal to the negative of that for the s polarization, and hence the film–substrate system acts as a half-wave retarder (HWR), by proper selection of film refractive index N1, film thickness d, and angle of incidence ϕ.This condition, which generally holds only at normal incidence, becomes possible at oblique incidence also if N1 is within a certain range, 1<N1<N̂1. For a given substrate and given N1, a procedure is described to determine ϕHWR and dHWR that achieve a HWR. As N1 is increased from 1 to the upper limit N̂1, ϕHWR decreases from 90° to 0 monotonically. dHWR approximately equals (exactly equals when the substrate is a perfect dielectric or a perfect conductor) an odd multiple of half of the film-thickness period evaluated at ϕHWR. Significantly, we find that the film–substrate HWR retains nearly the same characteristics of normal-incidence reflection over the range of angle from 0 up to (and beyond) ϕHWR. Detailed data are presented of HWR’s that use transparent films on metallic (Al and Ag), semiconducting (Si), and dielectric (glass) substrates at two laser wavelengths (0.6328 and 10.6 μm). Film–substrate HWR’s permit the realization of simple polarization-insensitive parallel-mirror beam displacers, 90° rooftop reflectors, and biconical axicons and waxicons.

© 1983 Optical Society of America

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