OSA's Digital Library

Applied Optics

Applied Optics


  • Vol. 20, Iss. 15 — Aug. 1, 1981
  • pp: 2656–2664

Total internal reflection microscopy: a surface inspection technique

P. A. Temple  »View Author Affiliations

Applied Optics, Vol. 20, Issue 15, pp. 2656-2664 (1981)

View Full Text Article

Enhanced HTML    Acrobat PDF (1729 KB)

Browse Journals / Lookup Meetings

Browse by Journal and Year


Lookup Conference Papers

Close Browse Journals / Lookup Meetings

Article Tools



Structure at and near the surface of a transparent sample or in a film on a transparent substrate can be observed by illuminating the sample from within using a well-collimated polarized laser beam incident at an angle equal to or greater than the critical angle of the sample material and examining the air side of the surface using an optical microscope. Although the technique is similar to dark-field microscopy, additional information can be obtained here concerning the size and depth of scattering sites on or near the surface. This technique, total internal reflection microscopy (TIRM), is complementary to phase contrast (Nomarski) microscopy. Two TIRM microscopes are shown, one of which is used as an attachment to a commercial Nomarski microscope and the second of which is used in laser damage measurements. This surface inspection technique had been used to study surface polishing and cleaning methods, laser damage nucleation sites, ion milling of optical surfaces, and thin film inclusions. A biological application for liquid medium studies is suggested. A description of the electric fields present at and near the air sample interface is given.

© 1981 Optical Society of America

Original Manuscript: February 9, 1981
Published: August 1, 1981

P. A. Temple, "Total internal reflection microscopy: a surface inspection technique," Appl. Opt. 20, 2656-2664 (1981)

Sort:  Author  |  Year  |  Journal  |  Reset  


  1. This configuration has been used by Parks's group.2 However, they have primarily monitored the transmitted beam intensity for changes induced by a disrupted surface caused by laser-induced damage. Their observation of the externally scattered light appears to have been fairly casual.
  2. N. Alyassini, J. H. Parks, in Laser Induced Damage in Optical Materials: 1975, (NBS Special Publication, 435, A. J. Glass, A. H. Guenther, Eds. (U.S. GPO, Washington D.C., 1975), p. 284.
  3. P. A. Temple, Proc. Soc. Photo-Opt. Instrum. Eng. 190, 44 (1979).
  4. P. A. Temple, in Laser Induced Damage in Optical Materials: 1979, NBS Special Publication 568, H. E. Bennett, A. J. Glass, A. H. Guenther, B. E. Newnam, Eds. (U.S. GPO, Washington D.C., 1980), p. 333.
  5. P. A. Temple, D. Milam, W. H. Lowdermilk, Ref. 4 p. 229.
  6. F. A. Jenkins, H. E. White, Fundamentals of Optics (McGraw-Hill, New York, 1950), p. 564.
  7. O. Wiener, Ann. Phys. 40, 203 (1890).
  8. F. A. Jenkins, H. E. White, Fundamentals of Optics (McGraw-Hill, New York, 1950), p. 578.
  9. C. L. Andrews, Optics of the Electromagnetic Spectrum (Prentice-Hall, Englewood Cliffs, N.J., 1960), p. 417.
  10. The author would like to thank R. A. Ferrante (Naval Weapons Center) for suggesting the use of matching oil to allow one to distinguish between surface irregularities and other types of scattering sites.
  11. J. M. Elson, Naval Weapons Center; private communication.

Cited By

Alert me when this paper is cited

OSA is able to provide readers links to articles that cite this paper by participating in CrossRef's Cited-By Linking service. CrossRef includes content from more than 3000 publishers and societies. In addition to listing OSA journal articles that cite this paper, citing articles from other participating publishers will also be listed.

« Previous Article  |  Next Article »

OSA is a member of CrossRef.

CrossCheck Deposited