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A Simple Technique for Observing Fringe Interpolation Errors in Michelson Interferometers

Published

Author(s)

Jack A. Stone Jr., Lowell P. Howard

Abstract

We describe a simple, convenient method for measuring nonlinearities in displacement-measuring Michelson interferometers. Nonlinearities with a spatial periodicity of one optical fringe are a well-known source of error in precision interferometry. Our experimental technique for observing these errors is most immediately applicable to commercial interferometer systems for which the cube-corner retroreflectors can be attached directly to the faces of a beamsplitter cube, creating a monolithic interferometer optic with excellent noise immunity. The optical path difference in this bolted-together interferometer can be changed slightly by rotating the interferometer relative to an external laser. It should be noted that the basic principle described here -- generating small path differences through a rotation of the optics relative to the laser-- may itself be a source of significant errors in certain length measurements. The validity of our method has been demonstrated by measuring optical mixing errors of calculable magnitude. We describe a matrix method suitable for modeling optical mixing errors in both single-pass and double-pass (plane mirror) interferometers. Also, we report experimental measurements of periodic nonlinearities for two representative interferometers and conclude that, in the majority of engineering metrology applications, these errors are of only minor importance.
Citation
Precision Engineering-Journal of the International Societies for Precision Engineering and Nanotechnology
Volume
22(4)

Keywords

fringe interpolation, heterodyne interferometry, nanometrology, optical mixing, periodic nonlinearity, polarization mixing

Citation

Stone, J. and Howard, L. (1998), A Simple Technique for Observing Fringe Interpolation Errors in Michelson Interferometers, Precision Engineering-Journal of the International Societies for Precision Engineering and Nanotechnology (Accessed May 29, 2024)

Issues

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Created October 1, 1998, Updated January 27, 2020