The polarization of light scattered by the surface of a material contains information that can be used to identify the sources of that scatter. Theories for light scattering from interfacial roughness of a dielectric layer and from defects in that dielectric layer are reviewed. Methods for calculating the Mueller matrix or the Stokes vector for scatter from multiple sources and for decomposing a Stokes vector into contributions from two nondepolarizing scattering sources are derived. The theories are evaluated for a specific sample and geometry. Results show that some incident polarizations are more effective than others at discriminating among scattering sources, with <i>s</i>-polarized light being least effective. The polarization of light scattered from interfacial roughness depends upon the relative roughness of the two interfaces and the degree of correlation between the two interfaces. The scattering from defects in the film depends on the depth of the defect and differs from that from any one of the cases of interfacial roughness. The scattering from defects randomly distributed in the film and for small dielectric permittivity variations in the film is also calculated. Experimental results are presented for a 52-nm SiO<sub>2</sub> film thermally grown on microrough silicon.
© 2001 Optical Society of America
(240.5770) Optics at surfaces : Roughness
(260.2130) Physical optics : Ellipsometry and polarimetry
(290.5880) Scattering : Scattering, rough surfaces
(310.6860) Thin films : Thin films, optical properties
Thomas A. Germer, "Polarized light scattering by microroughness and small defects in dielectric layers," J. Opt. Soc. Am. A 18, 1279-1288 (2001)