Zero order waveplates are constructed of two multiple order waveplates with their axes crossed. Thus, the effect of the first plate is cancelled by the second, except for the residual difference between them.
Zero order waveplates are much less susceptible to wavelength and temperature changes, and can be adjusted up to 2% above or below the design wavelength with little effect on retardation. The waveplates should be considered for more critical application.
Zero-order waveplates are frequently preferred to use despite their somewhat higher cost. They maintain optimum performance across a much larger range of temperatures and wavelengths. They are used with laser diodes having variable wavelengths, or in instruments that warm up over time, or in locations subject to variable environments, where their stability is paramount.