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Broadband Free-Space Isolators (650 - 1000 nm)
Shown in the Saddle (SM1RC) Mounted on an Optical Table
Our Adjustable Broadband Isolators can be tuned to maximize the peak isolation for any wavelength within a broad spectral range.
Thorlabs is pleased to stock a variety of free-space optical isolators designed for broadband applications in the near infrared spectral range (650 - 1000 nm). Optical isolators, also known as Faraday isolators, are magneto-optic devices that preferentially transmit light along a single direction, shielding upstream optics from back reflections. Back reflections can create a number of instabilities in light sources, including intensity noise, frequency shifts, mode hopping, and loss of mode lock. In addition, intense back-reflected light can permanently damage optics. Please see the Isolator Tutorial tab for an explanation of the operating principles of a Faraday isolator.
For broadband applications in the near infrared range, we offer two types of isolators. The first type, Adjustable Broadband Isolators, offers the user the ability to adjust the alignment of the input and output polarizers, allowing tuning of the center wavelength over a range greater than 200 nm and operating ranges as broad as 330 nm. The second type, Fixed Broadband Isolators (IO-5BB-800-HP), offers a nearly flat isolation of 30 dB in the 748 - 851 nm wavelength range, helping to preserve the temporal profile of the input pulse. Please see the Isolator Types tab for additional design details and representative graphs of the wavelength-dependent isolation. Each isolator's housing is marked with an arrow that indicates the direction of forward propagation.
Each isolator's housing is marked with an arrow that indicates the direction of forward propagation. In addition, all isolators have engravings that indicate the alignment of the input and output polarizers.
Thorlabs also manufactures isolators for fiber optic systems and wavelengths from the visible to the infrared (see the Selection Guide table to the right). If Thorlabs does not stock an isolator suited for your application, please refer to the Custom Isolators tab for information on our build-to-order options, or contact Tech Support. Thorlabs' in-house manufacturing service has over 25 years of experience and can deliver a free-space isolator tuned to your center wavelength from 244 nm to 4.55 µm. Our vertically integrated manufacturing structure allows us to offer faraday rotators used in optical isolators. We offer a selection of faraday rotators from stock and can provide custom faraday rotators upon request.
Shaded regions on a graph represent the center wavelength tuning range of the isolator. With these isolators, the isolation and transmission curves will shift as the center wavelength shifts. If the graph is not shaded, then the isolator is non-tunable. Please note that these curves were made from theoretical data and that isolation and transmission will vary from unit to unit.
Fixed Narrowband Isolator
The isolator is set for 45° of rotation at the design wavelength. The polarizers are non-adjustable and are set to provide maximum isolation at the design wavelength. As the wavelength changes the isolation will drop; the graph shows a representative profile.
Adjustable Narrowband Isolator
The isolator is set for 45° of rotation at the design wavelength. If the usage wavelength changes, the Faraday rotation will change, thereby decreasing the isolation. To regain maximum isolation, the output polarizer can be rotated to "re-center" the Gaussian isolation curve. This rotation causes transmission losses in the forward direction that increase as the difference between the usage wavelength and the design wavelength grows.
Adjustable Broadband Isolator
The isolator is set for 45° of rotation at the design wavelength. There is a tuning ring on the isolator that adjusts the amount of Faraday rotator material that is inserted into the internal magnet. As your usage wavelength changes, the Faraday rotation will change, thereby decreasing the isolation. To regain maximum isolation, the tuning ring is adjusted to produce the 45° of rotation necessary for maximum isolation.
Fixed Broadband Isolator
A 45° Faraday rotator is coupled with a 45° crystal quartz rotator to produce a combined 90° rotation on the output. The wavelength dependences of the two rotator materials work together to produce a flat-top isolation profile. The isolator does not require any tuning or adjustment for operation within the designated design bandwidth.
Tandem isolators consist of two Faraday rotators in series, which share one central polarizer. Since the two rotators cancel each other, the net rotation at the output is 0°. Our tandem designs yield narrowband isolators that may be fixed or adjustable.
Polarizer Types, Sizes, and Power Limits
Thorlabs designs and manufactures several types of polarizers that are used across our family of optical isolators. Their design characteristics are detailed below. The part number of given isolator has an identifier for the type of polarizer that isolator contains. For more details on how the part number describes each isolator, see the given isolator's manual.
Optical Isolator Tutorial
An isolator's function is based on the Faraday Effect. In 1842, Michael Faraday discovered that the plane of polarized light rotates while transmitting through glass (or other materials) that is exposed to a magnetic field. The direction of rotation is dependent on the direction of the magnetic field and not on the direction of light propagation; thus, the rotation is non-reciprocal. The amount of rotation β equals V x B x d, where V, B, and d are as defined below.
Figure 1. Faraday Rotator's Effect on Linearly Polarized Light
β = V x B x d
V: the Verdet Constant, a property of the optical material, in radians/T • m.
B: the magnetic flux density in teslas.
d: the path length through the optical material in meters.
An optical isolator consists of an input polarizer, a Faraday rotator with magnet, and an output polarizer. The input polarizer works as a filter to allow only linearly polarized light into the Faraday rotator. The Faraday element rotates the input light's polarization by 45°, after which it exits through another linear polarizer. The output light is now rotated by 45° with respect to the input signal. In the reverse direction, the Faraday rotator continues to rotate the light's polarization in the same direction that it did in the forward direction so that the polarization of the light is now rotated 90° with respect to the input signal. This light's polarization is now perpendicular to the transmission axis of the input polarizer, and as a result, the energy is either reflected or absorbed depending on the type of polarizer.
Figure 2. A single-stage, polarization-dependent isolator. Light propagating in the reverse direction is rejected by the input polarizer.
The Forward Mode
In a dual-stage isolator, the light exiting the output polarizer is sent through a second Faraday rotator followed by an additional polarizer in order to achieve greater isolation than a single-stage isolator.
The Reverse Mode
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Figure 3. A single-stage, polarization-independent isolator. Light is deflected away from the input path and stopped by the housing.
Polarization-Independent Fiber Isolators
The Forward Mode
In a dual-stage isolator, the light then travels through an additional Faraday rotator, half-wave plate, and birefringent beam displacer before reaching the output collimating lens. This achieves greater isolation than the single-stage design.
The Reverse Mode
Figure 4. Pulse Dispersion Measurements Before and After an IO-5-780-HP Isolator
τ: Pulse Width Before Isolator
τ(z): Pulse Width After Isolator
Click to Enlarge
Custom Isolator Example
Custom Adjustable Narrowband Isolator with Different Input and Output Polarizers Optimized for 650 nm Wavelength and 40 °C Temperature.
OEM Application Services
OEM and Non-Standard Isolators
In an effort to provide the best possible service to our customers, Thorlabs has made a commitment to ship our most popular free-space and fiber isolator models from stock. We currently offer same-day shipping on more than 90 isolator models. In addition to these stock models, non-stock isolators with differing aperture sizes, wavelength ranges, package sizes, and polarizers are available. In addition, we can create isolators tuned for specific operating temperatures and isolators that incorporate thermistors with heating or cooling elements for active temperature control and monitoring. These generally have the same price as a similar stock unit. If you would like a quote on a non-stock isolator, please fill out the form below and a member of our staff will be in contact with you.
Thorlabs has many years of experience working with OEM, government, and research customers, allowing us to tailor your isolator to specific design requirements. In addition to customizing our isolators (see the OEM Application Services list to the right), we also offer various application services.
We are able to provide a wide range of flexibility in manufacturing non-stock, free-space isolators. Almost any selection of specifications from our standard product line can be combined to suit a particular need. The table to the right shows the range of specifications that we can meet.
We offer isolators suitable for both narrowband and broadband applications. The size of the housing is very dependent on the desired maximum power and aperture size, so please include a note in the quote form below if you have special requirements.
We offer Faraday rotators center wavelengths from 532 nm to 1550 nm. These are the same components used to make our isolators and rotate the polarization of incoming light by 45°. Please contact Tech Support if you require a faraday rotator with a rotation angle or center wavelength outside of the aforementioned specifications.
Thorlabs is uniquely positioned to draw on experience in classical optics, fiber coupling, and isolators to provide flexible designs for a wide range of fiber optic specifications. Current design efforts are focused on increasing the Maximum power of our fiber isolators at and near the 1064 nm wavelength. We offer models with integrated ASE filters and taps. The table to the right highlights the range of specifications that we can meet.
The fiber used is often the limiting factor in determining the Maximum power the isolator can handle. We have experience working with single mode (SM) and polarization-maintaining fibers (PM); single-, double- and triple-clad fibers; and specialty fibers like 10-to-30 µm LMA fibers and PM LMA fibers. For more information about the fiber options available with our custom isolators, please see the expandable tables below.
In the spectral region below 633 nm, we recommend mounting one of our free-space isolators in a FiberBench system. A FiberBench system consists of pre-designed modules that make it easy to use free-space optical elements with a fiber optic system while maintaining excellent coupling efficiency. Upon request, we can provide select stock isolators in an optic mount with twin steel dowel pins for our FiberBench systems, as shown to the left.
We are also in the process of extending our fiber isolator capabilities down into the visible region. For more information, please contact Technical Support.
Custom Fiber Isolator
Custom Free-Space Isolator for Wavelengths Below 633 nm
Click to Enlarge
Twin Steel Pins Insert into FiberBench
Click to Enlarge
Make to Order Options
The expandable tables below provide information on some common isolator and rotator specials we have manufactured in the past. We keep the majority of the components for these custom isolators in stock to ensure quick builds, so these specials are available with an average lead time of only 2-4 weeks. Please use the Non-Stock Isolator Worksheet below for a quote.
Request a custom isolator quote using the form below or by contacting us for more information at (973) 300-3000.
Thorlabs' Adjustable Broadband Isolators offer the ability to tune the center wavelength of the instruments for peak isolation over a very broad range of over 200 nm. They offer higher isolation and transmission than fixed broadband isolators (sold below), but they have a narrower operating wavelength range once the center wavelength is set. Custom adjustable broadband isolators are available by contacting Tech Support.
Thorlabs' Fixed Broadband Isolator offers a very broad ~100 nm operating wavelength range centered at 800 nm. The flat isolation and transmission of this isolator across this broad range helps to preserve the temporal shape of short laser pulses. The center wavelength of this isolator is fixed for simple operation with no required tuning or adjustments. Custom fixed broadband isolators are available by contacting Tech Support.
The SM3B2 will be retired without replacement when stock is depleted. If you require this part for line production, please contact our OEM Team.