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Waveplates and Retarders

A waveplate, also known as a retarder, is a tool used in optics that changes the way light waves, moving through it, are polarized. There are two main kinds of waveplates. The first kind, called a half-wave plate, changes the direction of light that’s polarized in a straight line. The second kind, known as a quarter-wave plate, can change light that’s polarized in a straight line into light that’s polarized in a circle, and can also do the reverse. Additionally, a quarter-wave plate can be used to create a special kind of polarization called elliptical polarization.

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