- Dichroic Filters Function as Edgepass Filters with Minimal Absorption Losses
- Four Sizes Available: Ø1/2", Ø1", Ø2", or 25 mm x 36 mm
- Hard Coating Allows Easy Handling and Cleaning
- Resistant to Damage from UV Light and Chemicals
A dichroic mirror/beamsplitter functions as a 50:50 beamsplitter at its design wavelength, known as the cutoff wavelength. A longpass dichroic mirror is highly reflective below the cutoff wavelength and highly transmissive above it, while a shortpass dichroic mirror is highly transmissive below the cutoff wavelength and highly reflective above it.
Thorlabs' Dichroic Mirrors/Beamsplitters are offered in eleven different cutoff wavelengths ranging from 425 - 1800 nm, and they provide >90% average transmission and >90% average reflection over their specified bands (see the graphs below). They are designed for use at a 45° angle of incidence and are available in sizes of Ø1/2", Ø1", Ø2", and 25 mm x 36 mm. Please refer to the table to the right to choose an appropriate filter for your application, and see below for representative transmission and reflection plots.
Dichroic filters feature a dichroic coating on one surface and an antireflection coating on the opposing surface. On round optics, an engraved arrow points toward the surface with the AR coating; on rectangular optics, the side with the engraving has the dichroic coating.
Dichroic mirrors/beamsplitters can be used to combine a beam that has a wavelength (or wavelength range) shorter than the design wavelength with a beam that has a wavelength (or wavelength range) longer than the design wavelength while minimizing intensity losses. Alternatively, spatially overlapping beams of different colors can be split with a single optic. This feature is commonly used in fluorescence microscopy to prevent light of the excitation wavelength from reaching the imaging detector. Please see the Applications tab for schematics of example experimental geometries.
Surface Quality and Durability
Thorlabs' Dichroic Mirrors/Beamsplitters consist of a hard, ion-beam-sputtered coating deposited on a UV fused silica substrate, providing excellent transparency deep into the UV, virtually zero autofluorescence, and a low coefficient of thermal expansion, making them an ideal choice for applications from the UV to the near IR. The uniformity of the coated glass prevents unwanted wavefront distortions and allows the optic to be cleaned and handled like typical glass. The coatings themselves have a 40-20 scratch-dig surface quality. They are virtually impervious to humidity effects and can withstand high optical irradiation intensities with no noticeable degradation or burns, even under prolonged exposure to ultraviolet light.
For customers who wish to use these dichroic mirrors/beamsplitters in microscopy applications, Thorlabs manufactures a family of filter cubes and mounts. If a filter cube or mount is ordered at the same time as one of the dichroic mirrors sold on this page, Thorlabs will premount the optic at no additional charge. In order to take advantage of this option, please contact Technical Support prior to ordering.
|Size||Ø1/2"||Ø1"||Ø2"||25.0 mm x 36.0 mm|
|Clear Aperture||>90% Diameter||>90% Surface Area|
|Thickness||3.2 mm||3.2 mm||5.0 mm||1.0 mm|
|Surface Quality||40-20 Scratch-Dig|
|Wavefront Distortion||<λ/4 @ 632 nm Over Clear Aperture|
|Substrate Material||UV Fused Silica|
|Operating Temperature||-50 to 80 °C|
|DMLP425||Longpass||425 nm||440 - 700 nm||380 - 410 nm||400 - 700 nm||1.50 J/cm2 (532 nm, 10 Hz, 10 ns, Ø250 µm)|
|DMLP505||Longpass||505 nm||520 - 700 nm||380 - 490 nm||400 - 700 nm||1.50 J/cm2 (532 nm, 10 Hz, 10 ns, Ø250 µm)|
|DMLP567||Longpass||567 nm||584 - 700 nm||380 - 550 nm||400 - 700 nm||1.96 J/cm2 (532 nm, 10 Hz, 10 ns, Ø250 µm)|
|DMLP605||Longpass||605 nm||620 - 700 nm||470 - 590 nm||400 - 700 nm||1.50 J/cm2 (532 nm, 10 Hz, 10 ns, Ø250 µm)|
|DMLP638||Longpass||638 nm||655 - 700 nm||580 - 621 nm||400 - 700 nm||1.50 J/cm2 (532 nm, 10 Hz, 10 ns, Ø250 µm)|
|DMSP805||Shortpass||805 nm||400 - 790 nm||820 - 1300 nm||400 - 790 nm||1.00 J/cm2 (532 nm, 10 Hz, 10 ns, Ø250 µm)|
7.30 J/cm2 (1064 nm, 10 Hz, 12 ns, Ø250 µm)
|DMLP900||Longpass||900 nm||932 - 1300 nm||400 - 872 nm||932 - 1300 nm||1.21 J/cm2 (532 nm, 10 Hz, 10 ns, Ø250 µm)|
6.78 J/cm2 (1064 nm, 10 Hz, 12 ns, Ø250 µm)
|DMSP1000||Shortpass||1000 nm||520 - 985 nm||1020 - 1550 nm||520 - 985 nm||1.34 J/cm2 (532 nm, 10 Hz, 10 ns, Ø250 µm)|
9.74 J/cm2 (1064 nm, 10 Hz, 12 ns, Ø250 µm)
|DMLP1180||Longpass||1180 nm||1260 - 1700 nm||750 - 1100 nm||1260 - 1700 nm||5.10 J/cm2 (1064 nm, 10 Hz, 12 ns, Ø250 µm)|
|DMSP1500||Shortpass||1500 nm||1000 - 1450 nm||1550 - 2000 nm||1000 - 1450 nm||7.30 J/cm2 (1064 nm, 10 Hz, 12 ns, Ø250 µm)|
|DMLP1800||Longpass||1800 nm||1850 - 2100 nm||1500 - 1750 nm||1500 - 2100 nm||5.10 J/cm2 (1064 nm, 10 Hz, 12 ns, Ø250 µm)|
- Fluorescence Microscopy
- Splitting or Combining Two Beams of Different Wavelengths
- Filtering of Spectral Components
- Laser Applications that Require Minimal Wavefront Distortion
Ray Diagram Illustration
Figure 1 depicts a dichroic mirror/beamsplitter being used to combine a transmitted beam (red) with a reflected beam (blue). The transmitted beam has a wavelength in the transmission band of the optic, and the reflected beam has a wavelength in the reflection band of the optic. If the direction of propagation is reversed, the optic becomes a beamsplitter, as shown in Figure 2.
In both cases, the combined, polychromatic beam is on the dichroic coated side of the dichroic filter. To minimize absorption losses in these optics, we recommend orienting them such that the wavelength being reflected does not pass through the substrate. Dichroic mirrors/beamsplitters differ from typical beamsplitters in that the beams can be combined or separated without a significant loss of intensity.
Figure 1. This figure depicts a dichroic mirror being used to combine two beams of different colors.
Figure 2. This figure depicts a dichroic mirror being used to split two beams of different colors.
Laser Induced Damage Threshold Tutorial
This tutorial is a general overview of how laser induced damage thresholds are measured and how the values may be utilized in determining the appropriateness of an optic for a given application. When choosing optics, it is important to understand the Laser Induced Damage Threshold (LIDT) of the optics being used. The LIDT for an optic greatly depends on the type of laser you are using. Continuous wave (CW) lasers typically cause damage from thermal effects (absorption either in the coating or in the substrate). Pulsed lasers, on the other hand, often strip electrons from the lattice structure of an optic before causing thermal damage. Note that the guideline presented here assumes room temperature operation and optics in new condition (i.e., within scratch-dig spec, surface free of contamination, etc.).
Thorlabs' LIDT testing is done in compliance with ISO/DIS11254 specifications. A standard 1-on-1 testing regime is performed to test the damage threshold.
The photograph above is a protected aluminum-coated mirror after LIDT testing. In this particular test, it handled 0.43 J/cm2 (1064 nm, 10 ns pulse, 10 Hz, Ø1.000 mm) before damage.
First, a low-power/energy beam is directed to the optic under test. The optic is exposed in 10 locations to this laser beam for a set duration of time (CW) or number of pulses (prf specified). After exposure, the optic is examined by a microscope (~100X magnification) for any visible damage. The number of locations that are damaged at a particular power/energy level is recorded. Next, the power/energy is either increased or decreased and the optic is exposed at 10 new locations. This process is repeated until damage is observed. The damage threshold is then assigned to be the highest power/energy that the optic can withstand without causing damage. A histogram such as that below represents the testing of one BB1-E02 mirror.
|Fluence||# of Tested Locations||Locations with Damage||Locations Without Damage|
According to the test, the damage threshold of the mirror was 2.00 J/cm2 (532 nm, 10 ns pulse, 10 Hz, Ø0.803 mm). Please keep in mind that it is only representative of one coating run and that Thorlabs' specified damage thresholds account for coating variances.
Continuous Wave and Long-Pulse Lasers
When an optic is damaged by a continuous wave (CW) laser, it is usually due to the melting of the surface as a result of absorbing the laser's energy or damage to the optical coating (antireflection) . Pulsed lasers with pulse lengths longer than 1 µs can be treated as CW lasers for LIDT discussions. Additionally, when pulse lengths are between 1 ns and 1 µs, LIDT can occur either because of absorption or a dielectric breakdown (must check both CW and pulsed LIDT). Absorption is either due to an intrinsic property of the optic or due to surface irregularities; thus LIDT values are only valid for optics meeting or exceeding the surface quality specifications given by a manufacturer. While many optics can handle high power CW lasers, cemented (e.g., achromatic doublets) or highly absorptive (e.g., ND filters) optics tend to have lower CW damage thresholds. These lower thresholds are due to absorption or scattering in the cement or metal coating.
LIDT in linear power density vs. pulse length and spot size. For long pulses to CW, linear power density becomes a constant with spot size. This graph was obtained from .
Pulsed lasers with high pulse repetition frequencies (PRF) may behave similarly to CW beams. Unfortunately, this is highly dependent on factors such as absorption and thermal diffusivity, so there is no reliable method for determining when a high PRF laser will damage an optic due to thermal effects. For beams with a large PRF both the average and peak powers must be compared to the equivalent CW power. Additionally, for highly transparent materials, there is little to no drop in the LIDT with increasing PRF.
In order to use the specified CW damage threshold of an optic, it is necessary to know the following:
- Wavelength of your laser
- Linear power density of your beam (total power divided by 1/e2 spot size)
- Beam diameter of your beam (1/e2)
- Approximate intensity profile of your beam (e.g., Gaussian)
The power density of your beam should be calculated in terms of W/cm. The graph to the right shows why the linear power density provides the best metric for long pulse and CW sources. Under these conditions, linear power density scales independently of spot size; one does not need to compute an adjusted LIDT to adjust for changes in spot size. This calculation assumes a uniform beam intensity profile. You must now consider hotspots in the beam or other nonuniform intensity profiles and roughly calculate a maximum power density. For reference, a Gaussian beam typically has a maximum power density that is twice that of the 1/e2 beam (see lower right).
Now compare the maximum power density to that which is specified as the LIDT for the optic. If the optic was tested at a wavelength other than your operating wavelength, the damage threshold must be scaled appropriately. A good rule of thumb is that the damage threshold has a linear relationship with wavelength such that as you move to shorter wavelengths, the damage threshold decreases (i.e., a LIDT of 10 W/cm at 1310 nm scales to 5 W/cm at 655 nm). While this rule of thumb provides a general trend, it is not a quantitative analysis of LIDT vs wavelength. In CW applications, for instance, damage scales more strongly with absorption in the coating and substrate, which does not necessarily scale well with wavelength. While the above procedure provides a good rule of thumb for LIDT values, please contact Tech Support if your wavelength is different from the specified LIDT wavelength. If your power density is less than the adjusted LIDT of the optic, then the optic should work for your application.
Please note that we have a buffer built in between the specified damage thresholds online and the tests which we have done, which accommodates variation between batches. Upon request, we can provide individual test information and a testing certificate. The damage analysis will be carried out on a similar optic (customer's optic will not be damaged). Testing may result in additional costs or lead times. Contact Tech Support for more information.
As previously stated, pulsed lasers typically induce a different type of damage to the optic than CW lasers. Pulsed lasers often do not heat the optic enough to damage it; instead, pulsed lasers produce strong electric fields capable of inducing dielectric breakdown in the material. Unfortunately, it can be very difficult to compare the LIDT specification of an optic to your laser. There are multiple regimes in which a pulsed laser can damage an optic and this is based on the laser's pulse length. The highlighted columns in the table below outline the pulse lengths that our specified LIDT values are relevant for.
Pulses shorter than 10-11 s cannot be compared to our specified LIDT values with much reliability. In this ultra-short-pulse regime various mechanics, such as multiphoton-avalanche ionization, take over as the predominate damage mechanism . In contrast, pulses between 10-9 s and 10-6 s may cause damage to an optic either because of dielectric breakdown or thermal effects. This means that both CW and pulsed damage thresholds must be compared to the laser beam to determine whether the optic is suitable for your application.
|Pulse Duration||t < 10-11 s||10-11 < t < 10-9 s||10-9 < t < 10-6 s||t > 10-6 s|
|Damage Mechanism||Avalanche Ionization||Dielectric Breakdown||Dielectric Breakdown or Thermal||Thermal|
|Relevant Damage Specification||N/A||Pulsed||Pulsed and CW||CW|
When comparing an LIDT specified for a pulsed laser to your laser, it is essential to know the following:
LIDT in energy density vs. pulse length and spot size. For short pulses, energy density becomes a constant with spot size. This graph was obtained from .
- Wavelength of your laser
- Energy density of your beam (total energy divided by 1/e2 area)
- Pulse length of your laser
- Pulse repetition frequency (prf) of your laser
- Beam diameter of your laser (1/e2 )
- Approximate intensity profile of your beam (e.g., Gaussian)
The energy density of your beam should be calculated in terms of J/cm2. The graph to the right shows why the energy density provides the best metric for short pulse sources. Under these conditions, energy density scales independently of spot size, one does not need to compute an adjusted LIDT to adjust for changes in spot size. This calculation assumes a uniform beam intensity profile. You must now adjust this energy density to account for hotspots or other nonuniform intensity profiles and roughly calculate a maximum energy density. For reference a Gaussian beam typically has a maximum power density that is twice that of the 1/e2 beam.
Now compare the maximum energy density to that which is specified as the LIDT for the optic. If the optic was tested at a wavelength other than your operating wavelength, the damage threshold must be scaled appropriately . A good rule of thumb is that the damage threshold has an inverse square root relationship with wavelength such that as you move to shorter wavelengths, the damage threshold decreases (i.e., a LIDT of 1 J/cm2 at 1064 nm scales to 0.7 J/cm2 at 532 nm):
You now have a wavelength-adjusted energy density, which you will use in the following step.
Beam diameter is also important to know when comparing damage thresholds. While the LIDT, when expressed in units of J/cm2, scales independently of spot size; large beam sizes are more likely to illuminate a larger number of defects which can lead to greater variances in the LIDT . For data presented here, a <1 mm beam size was used to measure the LIDT. For beams sizes greater than 5 mm, the LIDT (J/cm2) will not scale independently of beam diameter due to the larger size beam exposing more defects.
The pulse length must now be compensated for. The longer the pulse duration, the more energy the optic can handle. For pulse widths between 1 - 100 ns, an approximation is as follows:
Use this formula to calculate the Adjusted LIDT for an optic based on your pulse length. If your maximum energy density is less than this adjusted LIDT maximum energy density, then the optic should be suitable for your application. Keep in mind that this calculation is only used for pulses between 10-11 s and 10-9 s. For pulses between 10-9 s and 10-6 s, the CW LIDT must also be checked before deeming the optic appropriate for your application.
Please note that we have a buffer built in between the specified damage thresholds online and the tests which we have done, which accommodates variation between batches. Upon request, we can provide individual test information and a testing certificate. Contact Tech Support for more information.
 R. M. Wood, Optics and Laser Tech. 29, 517 (1997).
 Roger M. Wood, Laser-Induced Damage of Optical Materials (Institute of Physics Publishing, Philadelphia, PA, 2003).
 C. W. Carr et al., Phys. Rev. Lett. 91, 127402 (2003).
 N. Bloembergen, Appl. Opt. 12, 661 (1973).