Abstract

We have designed and built a static tester around a commercially available polarized light microscope. This device employs two semiconductor laser diodes (at 643- and 680-nm wavelengths) for the purpose of recording small marks on various media for optical data storage and for the simultaneous monitoring of the recording process. We use one of the lasers in the single-pulse mode to write a mark on the sample and operate the other laser in the cw mode to monitor the recording process. The two laser beams are brought to coincident focus on the sample through the objective lens of the microscope. The reflected beams are sent through a polarizing beam splitter and thus divided into two branches, depending on whether they are p or s polarized. In each branch the beam is further divided into two according to the wavelength. The four beams thus produced are sent to four high-speed photodetectors, and the resulting signals are used to monitor the reflectance as well as the polarization state of the beam on reflection from the sample. We provide a comprehensive description of the tester’s design and operating principles. We also report preliminary results of measurements of phase-change, dye–polymer, and magneto-optical samples, which are currently of interest in the areas of writable and rewritable optical data storage.

© 1999 Optical Society of America

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