A novel configuration that combines a linearly polarized He–Ne laser and a birefringent lens to produce a common-path polarized optical heterodyne profilometer with respect to the heterodyned <i>P</i> and <i>S</i> waves has been set up. In this profilometer a linear polarized frequency-stabilized He–Ne laser was used with an acousto-optical modulator to replace the Zeeman laser as the light source that had two polarization eigenstates in different temporal frequencies. The proposed interferometer shows a more symmetric and ideal common-path structure than the conventional optical heterodyne profilometers with the Zeeman laser. The phase error aroused by the elliptical polarization and the nonorthogonality of the two eigenpolarization modes of the Zeeman laser can be reduced. The system’s resolution in the vertical direction reaches 2 Å, and in a 27-μm scanning range the repeatability of the surface profile measurements is shown to be 5 Å.
© 1998 Optical Society of America
Chien Chou, Jenn-chyang Shyu, Yeu-chuen Huang, and Chen-kee Yuan, "Common-path optical heterodyne profilometer: a configuration," Appl. Opt. 37, 4137-4142 (1998)