Abstract

It is well known that the spectral transmittance and reflectance of a thin film can be influenced by even small inhomogeneities or variations in its complex refractive-index profile. Formulas are derived that describe the theoretical variation of the spectral characteristics for small changes in the refractive index and the extinction coefficient of a homogeneous thin film. These formulas, accurate to the first order in the change in the complex refractive index, are compared with exact calculations for a number of different types of inhomogeneities. It is shown that specific qualitative features in the refractive-index profile of a nearly homogeneous thin film frequently can be determined from an examination of the change in the spectral transmittance and reflectance at normal incidence.

© 1997 Optical Society of America

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