Abstract

In the past few years there has been much interest in use of tunable diode lasers for absolute interferometry. Here we report on use of an external cavity diode laser operating in the visible (λ ∼ 670 nm) for absolute distance measurements. Under laboratory conditions we achieve better than 1-µm standard uncertainty in distance measurements over a range of 5 m, but significantly larger uncertainties will probably be more typical of shop-floor measurements where conditions are far from ideal. We analyze the primary sources of uncertainty limiting the performance of wavelength-sweeping methods for absolute interferometry, and we discuss how errors can be minimized. Many errors are greatly magnified when the wavelength sweeping technique is used; sources of error that are normally relevant only at the nanometer level when standard interferometric techniques are used may be significant here for measurements at the micrometer level.

© 1999 Optical Society of America

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