Beam Splitters: A Complete Overview

A Beam splitter is an optical device that is basically used to split a beam of light into two parts. They are made from high-grade glass materials, featuring laser grade surface flatness, top-notch surface quality, and high tolerance on the splitting ratio. 

  • Important properties of optical beam splitters: Apart from considering the basic function of the beam splitter, which is the splitting ratio, the following few properties are also important:
  • The wavelength of the beam splitter determines the range of incidence angles in a plane.
  • The intensity of optical losses may vary significantly in different types of devices. For instance, beam splitters with dichroic coatings exhibit negligible losses, whereas splitters with metallic coatings produce high losses.
  • The spatial configuration is one of the important parameters for picking the right beam splitters. This is because some output ports may require a 0° – 90° input beam while others require parallel output ports.
  • Depending on the industry or the purpose, choose the right polarizing or non-polarizing beam splitters.

  • Common designs of Beam Splitters: Beam splitters are available in two ways – Ready-made designs and customized designs. Speaking about the ready-made designs, you’ll find the following common ones: 
  • Beam Splitter designed with two triangular prisms, clubbed together to make a square. Later, the thickness and composition of the resin are adjusted so that 50% of the light is transmitted at a 45° angle and the remaining 50% of the light is reflected. 
  • Another design consists of a glass substrate coated with reflective metal like aluminum. Usually, a thin coating is applied so that 50% of the light can be transmitted easily. However, many optical manufacturers use transparent coatings of different indices to reflect the light.

Apart from these, their other types include splitters with thin membranes, micro-optic beam splitters, waveguide beam splitters, and many more. 

  • Application of Beam Splitters: The application of optics like diffractive beam splitters is wide. However, the major one includes laser scribing, laser displays, filters for cigarettes, IR depth detectors, medical applications, 3-D sensors, and fiber optics. Beam splitters are also required in technical devices such as interferometers, fiber couplers, auto correlators, photo cameras, binoculars, microscope, projectors, and survey equipment. 

A beam splitter is considered as an important application of optics with its uses in almost every sector. And, with respect to its recent upgrades, they will be soon used in devices such as – Ultra-high-Q optical resonator, polarisation gratings, bio-lasers and many more.

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