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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. N̂HWR 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 ra ge of angle from 0 up to (and beyond) PHWR. 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.

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Journal of the Optical Society of America (1917-1983)


This paper was published in Journal of the Optical Society of America (1917-1983) and is made available as an electronic reprint with the permission of OSA. The paper can be found at the following URL on the OSA website: Systematic or multiple reproduction or distribution to multiple locations via electronic or other means is prohibited and is subject to penalties under law.