- Eliminates Ghosting
- No Chromatic Aberration with Focused Beams
- Minimal Change in Optical Path Length
- Choose from Uncoated Versions for Beam Sampling or Coated Versions for Beamsplitting
- Ø1/2", Ø1", and Ø2" Versions Available
- Surface Quality: 40-20 (Scratch-Dig)
Thorlabs' Ø1/2", Ø1", and Ø2" Pellicle Beamsplitters, which are available with models covering wavelengths from 300 nm - 5 µm, are ideal for use in applications where chromatic dispersion must be minimized (i.e., cases where focused beams are necessary). Pellicle beamsplitters virtually eliminate ghosting since the second surface reflection is superimposed on the first one. However, they are extremely fragile due to the nitrocellulose membrane being only a few microns thick. For each size, Thorlabs offers both coated and uncoated versions. When using a coated optic, light should be incident upon the coated surface first (Note: the coated side of these beamsplitters is the side without the engraving).
The curves pictured below show each of the different coating types as well as the uncoated beamsplitting ratios over a variety of wavelengths. Data was obtained for unpolarized, S-polarized, and P-polarized light incident at 45°. In general, P-polarized light will be transmitted more than S-polarized light, and sinusoidal oscillation is present, resulting from thin film interference effects. See the Tutorial tab for more information about interference effects.
Each pellicle is mounted in a black anodized frame that has two 2-56 tapped mounting holes on the engraved side for mounting them in either our Fixed or Kinematic Pellicle Mounts. Both the fixed and kinematic pellicle mounts are available in versions that accommodate our Ø1/2", Ø1", or Ø2" pellicles. We also offer cage-cube-mounted pellicle beamsplitters, which are pre-mounted in cage cubes, offer protection to the delicate pellicle surface, and are compatible with our 30 mm cage systems. For a direct comparison of the performance of our non-polarizing beamsplitting cube, plate, and pellicle at 633 nm, see the Lab Facts tab.
Please note that the size of the pellicle beamsplitter (e.g., Ø1") refers to the inner diameter of the aluminum frame, not the outer diameter. Hence, these beamsplitters are not compatible with our standard Ø1/2", Ø1", and Ø2" optic mounts. Refer to the Specs tab for a complete table of dimensions.
Our pellicle beamsplitters are manufactured from an extremely thin and fragile membrane. Please do not touch the membrane under any circumstances. Compressed or canned air should also not be used on these beamsplitters, as the force of the air is large enough to damage the membrane.
|Membrane Thickness||2 μm, 5 µm for 300-400 nm Version|
|Index of Refraction (nd)||1.5 (@ 550 nm)|
|Surface Quality||40-20 Scratch-Dig|
|Transmitted Wavefront Retardance*||λ/2 (Typical)|
|Reflected Wavefront Retardance*||<λ/inch (Typical)|
|Frame Thickness||3/16" (4.8 mm)|
|Inner Diameter, I.D.||Ø1/2" Size: Ø1/2" (12.7 mm)|
Ø1" Size: Ø1" (25.4 mm)
Ø2" Size: Ø2" (50.8 mm)
|Outer Diameter, O.D.||Ø1/2" Size: Ø0.87" (22.2 mm)|
Ø1" Size: Ø1.38" (34.9 mm)
Ø2" Size: Ø2.38" (60.3 mm)
|Mounting Hole Spacing**||Ø1/2" Size: 0.63" (15.9 mm)|
Ø1" Size: 1.19" (30.2 mm)
Ø2" Size: 2.19" (55.6 mm)
|Temperature Range||-40 to 70 °C|
*Angle of Incidence = 45o
**Denoted by "A" in the figure to the right
Thorlabs Lab Fact: Beamsplitter Package Matters
We present laboratory measurements of the polarization angle, split ratio, and total throughput power of a beam transmitted through Thorlabs plate, cube, and pellicle beamsplitters. While all non-polarizing beamsplitters function similarly, the exact performance is different for different types of beamsplitter. Each type of beamsplitter contains its own advantages and disadvantages compared to other types of beamsplitters. Appropriate choice of beamsplitter is essential to sensitive experimental systems. We present a complete analysis and comparison of optical parameters for three common types of non-polarizing beamsplitters.
For our experiment we used the HRS015 stabilized HeNe as the light source for our investigation. A linear polarizer is used to set the laser beam's polarization axis to 45° in order to provide equal S- and P-polarized light incident on the beamsplitter. The beamsplitter under investigation was then placed in the beampath, and its split beams directed to appropriate detectors. The total power though the optic, polarization states, split ratios, and angle of incidence effects were investigated under this configuration.
The plots below summarize the measured results for all three types of beamsplitters. From these graphs the performance of each optic can be easily compared to one another. The bottom left plot summarizes the results for the total power throughput for each optic. The total power throughput is measured as the fraction of input power. While the plate and pellicle beamsplitters perform rather similarly, the cube shows signs of absorption inside the optic. Additionally, this plot shows the relative insensitivity of throughput power to angle of incidence. The bottom middle graph summarizes the results for the output polarization angle for each optic. The cube shows the most similar polarization angles between the reflected and transmitted beams, with the plate producing the largest difference in polarization between beams. The bottom right plot summarizes the results for the split ratio, as a fraction of input power, for the beamsplitters. Here it can be shown that the plate beamsplitter demonstrates the most ideal for 50/50 power splitting. For details on the experimental setup employed and the results summarized here, please click here.
Legend for Beam Diagrams
Beamsplitter Selection Guide
Thorlabs offers five main types of beamsplitters: Pellicle, Cube, Plate, Economy, and Polka Dot. Each type has distinct advantages and disadvantages.
Pellicle Beamsplitters - Pellicle beamsplitters are the best choice when dispersion must be kept to a minimum. They virtually eliminate multiple reflections commonly associated with thicker glass beamsplitters, thus preventing ghosting. In addition, unlike plate beamsplitters, there is a negligible effect on the propagation axis of the transmitted beam with respect to the incident beam.
Pellicle beamsplitters have two disadvantages: They exhibit sinusodial oscillations in the splitting ratio as a function of wavelength, due to thin film interference effects. Click Here for more details. They are also extremely delicate. Since they are fabricated by stretching a nitrocellulose membrane over a flat metal frame, the beamsplitter cannot be touched without destroying the optic. Thorlabs offers pellicle beamsplitters mounted in metal rings for use in kinematic mounts as well as cage cube mounted pellicles.
Thorlabs’ beamsplitter cubes are composed of two right-angled prisms. A dielectric coating, which is capable of reflecting and transmitting a portion of the incident beam, is applied to the hypotenuse surface. Since there is only one reflecting surface, this design inherently avoids ghost images, which sometimes occur with plate-type beamsplitters. Antireflection coatings are available on the entrance and exit faces of certain models to minimize back reflections. As well as providing a cost-effective solution, another advantage of the beamsplitting cube is the minimal shift it causes to the path of the transmitted beam. Thorlabs offers both polarizing and nonpolarizing beamsplitting cubes, in mounted and unmounted configurations, the former being compatible with our 30 mm cage systems.
Polarizing Beamsplitting Cubes - Thorlabs’ polarizing beamsplitter cubes split randomly polarized beams into two orthogonal, linearly polarized components (S and P), as shown in the diagram to the right. S-polarized light is reflected at a 90° angle with respect to the incident beam while P-polarized light is transmitted. Polarizing beamsplitting cubes are useful in applications where the two polarization components are to be analyzed or used simultaneously. Thorlabs offers mounted and unmounted polarizing beamsplitter cubes.
Nonpolarizing Beamsplitting Cubes - These cubes provide a 50:50 splitting ratio that is nearly independent of the polarization of the incident light. The low polarization dependence of the metallic-dielectric coating allows the transmission and reflection for S- and P-polarization states to be within 10% of each other. These beamsplitters are particularly useful with randomly polarized lasers and are specifically designed for applications in which polarization effects must be minimized. Thorlabs offers mounted and unmounted beamsplitter cubes.
Plate Beamsplitters - Thorlabs' plate beamsplitters are optimized for an incidence angle of 45° and feature a dielectric coating on the front surface for long-term stability. To help reduce unwanted interference effects (e.g., ghost images) caused by the interaction of light reflected from the front and back surfaces of the optic, a wedge has been added to these beamsplitters. Dispersion, ghosting, and shifting of the beam may all be potential problems, however. These are the best choice for a general-purpose beamsplitter. Thorlabs offers both polarizing and nonpolarizing plate beamsplitters.
Economy Beamsplitters - These are the most cost effective of all the beamsplitter types. Thorlabs' economy beamsplitters, which have an exposed oxide coating on one side and are uncoated on the other side, are designed to have either a 50:50 or 30:70 splitting ratio throughout the visible spectrum (450 - 650 nm) when used with unpolarized light incident at 45°.
Please note that the Fresnel reflections off of the uncoated back surface of these economy beamsplitters can lead to interference effects in the reflected beam. For applications sensitive to these effects, consider using a beamsplitting cube or a pellicle beamsplitter.
Polka Dot Beamsplitters - This type of beamsplitter consists of a glass substrate with a vacuum-deposited reflective coating that is applied over an array of apertures, giving the beamsplitter a "polka dot" appearance. Half of the incident beam is reflected from the coating, and half of the beam is transmitted through the uncoated portion of the substrate.
Polka dot beamsplitters are useful over a wide wavelength range and are negligibly angle sensitive, which makes them ideal for splitting the energy emitted from a radiant source. These are not recommended for imaging applications, as the polka dot pattern will affect the image.
Thin-Film Interference Effect
The plots below, which show transmission as a function of wavelength, depict a sinusoidal fluctuation that is caused by interference effects. These effects will occur for all pellicle beamsplitters and are sometimes averaged out when data is displayed.
The graph to the right depicts the actual measured percent reflectance of an 8:92 beam sampler without averaging the sinusoidal oscillations that result from thin film interference. The frequency and amplitude of the pattern depends on four factors: the thickness of the film, the thickness of any coating present, the angle of incidence of the incoming light, and the polarization of the incoming light.
Q: What is a thin film?
A layer of material is referred to as a thin film if the thickness of the layer is on the order of the wavelength of incident radiation in the film medium. The relationship between the wavelength of light in air and that in the film is given by
For the pellicle beamsplitters featured here, the information under the Specs tab states that nfilm = 1.5 at 550 nm. Therefore, for this incident wavelength, the wavelength in the pellicle membrane itself is