We describe a new method of angle measurement that is based on the internal-reflection effect at an air–glass boundary. The method uses a differential detection scheme to largely reduce the inherent nonlinearity of the reflectance versus the angle of incidence in internal reflection. With nonlinearity reduced, the displacement of the angle of incidence can be determined accurately by measuring the reflectance. The resolution and measurement range are determined by the initial angle of incidence, the polarization state of the light, and the number of reflections. Compared with interferometers and autocollimators, this method has the advantage of a simple sensor design for applications ranging from a wide measurement range to extremely high resolution. Other advantages are compact size, simple structure, and low cost. A theoretical analysis of the method and some experimental results of a prototype sensor are presented. The possible applications of the method are also discussed.
© 1992 Optical Society of America
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