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Prisms play an important role in optical instrument, though new technolgies such as digital image reduce the need of prism in morden optical instrument. Prisms are used to bend a light to a specific angle either by deflection, reflection (total internal reflection) or both. Simple prisms are named by prism's geometric shape such as right angle prism, penta prism, roof prism, etc. Complicate prisms are named to the designer, such as Abbe prism, Pellin-Broca prism, Bauernfeind prism and so on.

1. Reflective Prisms

Roof prism

Reflective prisms are used to reflect a light, in order to flip, invert, rotate, deviate or displace a light beam. They are typically used to erect the image in binoculars or single-lens reflex cameras - without the prisms, the image would be upside down for the user. The most common reflective prisms are:

-Porro prism
-Porro-Abbe prism
-Amici roof prism
-Pentaprism and roof pentaprism
-Abbe-Koenig prism
-Schmidt-Pechan prism
-Bauernfeind prism, half-penta prism or semipentaprism
-Dove prism
-Retroreflector prism

2. Dispersive Prisms

Pellin-Broca prism

Dispersive prisms are used to break up light into its constituent spectral colors. Because the refractive index depends on frequency, the white light entering the prism is a mixture of different frequencies, each of which gets bent slightly differently. Blue light is slowed down more than red light and will therefore be bent more than red light:

-Triangular prism
-Abbe prism
-Pellin-Broca prism
-Amici prism
-Compound prism

3. Deflecting Prisms

Risley Prism

Wedge prisms are used to deflect a beam of light by a fixed angle. A pair of such prisms can be used for beam steering; by rotating the prisms the beam can be deflected into any desired angle within a conical "field of regard". The most commonly found implementation is a Risley prism pair.

 Anamorphic Prisms

Wedge prisms can also be used as an anamorphic pair to change the shape of a beam. Anamorphic prism pair is used to make a round beam from the elliptical output of a laser diode.

4. Prisms for Polarization Optics

Prisms can also be used to split a beam of light into components of varying polarization. These are typically made of a birefringent crystalline material or dielectric coating on the surface.

-Nicol prism
- Wollaston prism
- Nomarski prism
- Rochon prism
- Senarmont prism
- Glan-Foucault prism
- Glan-Taylor prism
- Glan-Thompson prism
- Poalrization beamsplitter cube

5. Compound Prisms

In advanced imaging system, different color light are separately imaged into three or more CCD/CMOS sensors. The RGB(Philips) prism is designed to split white light into RGB colors. Philips prism is well suitable for reflective LCOS Projector, matrix camera applications.

RGB Prisms

Prisms Order Information

Generail Specifications of Prism
1) Material: N-BK7, UV Fused Silica, CaF2, YVO4 etc.
2) Size: 2 to 100mm
3) Dimension Tolerance: +/-0.05mm
4) Angle Tolerance: upto 1 arc second
5) Clear Aperature: 90%
6) Flatness: < λ/10 @633nm
7) Surface Quality: 40/20
8) Coating: AR, Beamsplitting or upon customer's request

Optocity offer standard and customer designed prisms from prototype to volume production. Please send us an email to request for quote.


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  1. Prisms Micro prism Penta prism Retro-reflector Dispersive prism AnamorphicPrism More prisms
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