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Non-Polarizing Beamsplitter Cubes in 30 mm Cage Cubes
400 - 700 nm
1100 - 1600 nm
Cage Setup with KC1 Kinematic Mirror Mounts, a Non-Polarizing Beamsplitter Cube, and 30 mm Cage Plates
Cube Beamsplitter Diagram
(Coating and Cement Layer Not to Scale)
Thorlabs’ 1" non-polarizing beamsplitter cubes are offered mounted for compatibility with 30 mm cage systems. These mounted cubes are available in three wavelength ranges: 400 - 700 nm, 700 - 1100 nm, 1100 - 1600 nm.
The dielectric beamsplitting coating is applied to the hypotenuse of one of the two prisms that make up the cube, and then cement is used to bind the two prism halves together (refer to the diagram to the right). Each face of the cube has a broadband antireflective coating that minimize losses due to reflections. The housing is engraved with arrows that indicate the direction in which the beam is incident on the beamsplitter coating layer, as shown in the diagram to the right. Although light can enter through any of the other AR-coated surfaces, specifications are guaranteed when light is first incident on the side of the beamsplitter coating; see the diagram to the right. Each beamsplitter cube is epoxied within the cage cube mount and cannot be removed from the mount. We also offer empty 30 mm cage cubes that are compatible with our line of unmounted beamsplitter cubes and right-angle prisms.
Thorlabs also offers two other types of mounted beamsplitters: Polarizing Beamsplitting Cubes and Pellicle Beamsplitters. A large variety of unmounted beamsplitters are also available. For a direct comparison of the performance of our non-polarizing cube, plate, and pellicle beamsplitters at 633 nm, please refer to the Lab Facts tab.
For a complete selection of our cube-mounted optics please see the Mounted Optics Guide tab.
The data below is relative to the power of the incident beam. Note that some light will be absorbed by the beamsplitter coating. The blue shaded regions denote the transmission and reflection bands for which the performance is guaranteed to meet the stated specifications. The data shown here is typical and run-to-run variations will occur within the given specifications. Performance outside the shaded regions is not guaranteed.
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 former generation HRS015 stabilized HeNe laser (replaced by the HRS015B) 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.
Damage Threshold Data for Thorlabs' Non-Polarizing Cube Beamsplitters
The specifications to the right are measured data for Thorlabs' non-polarizing cube beamsplitters. Damage threshold specifications are constant for all cubes that use the same coatings, regardless of the size of the beamsplitter.
Laser Induced Damage Threshold Tutorial
The following 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.). Because dust or other particles on the surface of an optic can cause damage at lower thresholds, we recommend keeping surfaces clean and free of debris. For more information on cleaning optics, please see our Optics Cleaning tutorial.
Thorlabs' LIDT testing is done in compliance with ISO/DIS 11254 and ISO 21254 specifications.
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.
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 these tests are performed on clean optics, as dirt and contamination can significantly lower the damage threshold of a component. While the test results are only representative of one coating run, Thorlabs specifies damage threshold values that 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.
When pulse lengths are between 1 ns and 1 µs, laser-induced damage can occur either because of absorption or a dielectric breakdown (therefore, a user 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.
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 high 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:
Thorlabs expresses LIDT for CW lasers as a linear power density measured in W/cm. In this regime, the LIDT given as a linear power density can be applied to any beam diameter; one does not need to compute an adjusted LIDT to adjust for changes in spot size, as demonstrated by the graph to the right. Average linear power density can be calculated using the equation below.
The calculation above assumes a uniform beam intensity profile. You must now consider hotspots in the beam or other non-uniform 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 uniform 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 relevant pulse lengths for our specified LIDT values.
Pulses shorter than 10-9 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 10-7 s and 10-4 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.
When comparing an LIDT specified for a pulsed laser to your laser, it is essential to know the following:
The energy density of your beam should be calculated in terms of J/cm2. The graph to the right shows why expressing the LIDT as an energy density provides the best metric for short pulse sources. In this regime, the LIDT given as an energy density can be applied to any beam diameter; 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 energy 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 10-9 s and 10-7 s. For pulses between 10-7 s and 10-4 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 (1998).
In order to illustrate the process of determining whether a given laser system will damage an optic, a number of example calculations of laser induced damage threshold are given below. For assistance with performing similar calculations, we provide a spreadsheet calculator that can be downloaded by clicking the button to the right. To use the calculator, enter the specified LIDT value of the optic under consideration and the relevant parameters of your laser system in the green boxes. The spreadsheet will then calculate a linear power density for CW and pulsed systems, as well as an energy density value for pulsed systems. These values are used to calculate adjusted, scaled LIDT values for the optics based on accepted scaling laws. This calculator assumes a Gaussian beam profile, so a correction factor must be introduced for other beam shapes (uniform, etc.). The LIDT scaling laws are determined from empirical relationships; their accuracy is not guaranteed. Remember that absorption by optics or coatings can significantly reduce LIDT in some spectral regions. These LIDT values are not valid for ultrashort pulses less than one nanosecond in duration.
A Gaussian beam profile has about twice the maximum intensity of a uniform beam profile.
CW Laser Example
However, the maximum power density of a Gaussian beam is about twice the maximum power density of a uniform beam, as shown in the graph to the right. Therefore, a more accurate determination of the maximum linear power density of the system is 1 W/cm.
An AC127-030-C achromatic doublet lens has a specified CW LIDT of 350 W/cm, as tested at 1550 nm. CW damage threshold values typically scale directly with the wavelength of the laser source, so this yields an adjusted LIDT value:
The adjusted LIDT value of 350 W/cm x (1319 nm / 1550 nm) = 298 W/cm is significantly higher than the calculated maximum linear power density of the laser system, so it would be safe to use this doublet lens for this application.
Pulsed Nanosecond Laser Example: Scaling for Different Pulse Durations
As described above, the maximum energy density of a Gaussian beam is about twice the average energy density. So, the maximum energy density of this beam is ~0.7 J/cm2.
The energy density of the beam can be compared to the LIDT values of 1 J/cm2 and 3.5 J/cm2 for a BB1-E01 broadband dielectric mirror and an NB1-K08 Nd:YAG laser line mirror, respectively. Both of these LIDT values, while measured at 355 nm, were determined with a 10 ns pulsed laser at 10 Hz. Therefore, an adjustment must be applied for the shorter pulse duration of the system under consideration. As described on the previous tab, LIDT values in the nanosecond pulse regime scale with the square root of the laser pulse duration:
This adjustment factor results in LIDT values of 0.45 J/cm2 for the BB1-E01 broadband mirror and 1.6 J/cm2 for the Nd:YAG laser line mirror, which are to be compared with the 0.7 J/cm2 maximum energy density of the beam. While the broadband mirror would likely be damaged by the laser, the more specialized laser line mirror is appropriate for use with this system.
Pulsed Nanosecond Laser Example: Scaling for Different Wavelengths
This scaling gives adjusted LIDT values of 0.08 J/cm2 for the reflective filter and 14 J/cm2 for the absorptive filter. In this case, the absorptive filter is the best choice in order to avoid optical damage.
Pulsed Microsecond Laser Example
If this relatively long-pulse laser emits a Gaussian 12.7 mm diameter beam (1/e2) at 980 nm, then the resulting output has a linear power density of 5.9 W/cm and an energy density of 1.2 x 10-4 J/cm2 per pulse. This can be compared to the LIDT values for a WPQ10E-980 polymer zero-order quarter-wave plate, which are 5 W/cm for CW radiation at 810 nm and 5 J/cm2 for a 10 ns pulse at 810 nm. As before, the CW LIDT of the optic scales linearly with the laser wavelength, resulting in an adjusted CW value of 6 W/cm at 980 nm. On the other hand, the pulsed LIDT scales with the square root of the laser wavelength and the square root of the pulse duration, resulting in an adjusted value of 55 J/cm2 for a 1 µs pulse at 980 nm. The pulsed LIDT of the optic is significantly greater than the energy density of the laser pulse, so individual pulses will not damage the wave plate. However, the large average linear power density of the laser system may cause thermal damage to the optic, much like a high-power CW beam.
30 mm Cage-Cube-Mounted Optics Selection Guide
The table below provides links to all of our 30 mm Cage-Cube-Mounted optics. For our selection of 16 mm Cage-Cube-Mounted Optics, please see our 16 mm Cage Systems guide.
30 mm Cage Cube Empty Optic Mounts Selection Guide
Thorlabs' portfolio contains many different kinds of beamsplitters, which can split beams by intensity or by polarization. We offer plate and cube beamsplitters, though other form factors exist, including pellicle and birefringent crystal. Many of our beamsplitters come in premounted or unmounted variants. Below is a complete listing of our beamsplitter offerings. To explore the available types, wavelength ranges, splitting/extinction ratios, transmission, and available sizes for each beamsplitter category, click More [+] in the appropriate row below.
Each mounted non-polarizing beamsplitter cube incorporates one of our 1" (25.4 mm) non-polarizing beamsplitter cubes into an aluminium housing. The housing features four SM1-threaded (1.035"-40) access ports and tapped holes around each access port that accept our Ø6 mm cage rods. An antireflection coating is deposited on each face of the beamsplitter cube to minimize unwanted reflections (see the Specs and Graphs tabs above for specifications and typical performance plots). The bottom of each cube has an 8-32 (M4) tapped hole for post mounting.
Click to Enlarge
The CM1-CC cube connector allows two or more cubes to be connected as shown in the image to the right. Many of our cage cubes are compatible with this connector, including empty cubes, empty dichroic cubes, mounted beamsplitters, mounted penta prisms, and mounted turning mirrors.
Two cage cube-mounted turning mirrors cannot be connected using the CM1-CC due to a lack of Ø6 mm cage rod holes on two sides of the cube.