Abstract

We propose a new configuration for a high-resolution heterodyne interferometer that employs a two-longitudinal-mode He-Ne laser with an intermode beat frequency of 600–1000 MHz. The high beat frequency is downconverted to 5 MHz such that the phase change of the interferometer output is precisely measured with a displacement resolution of 0.1 nm. A thermal control scheme is adopted to stabilize the cavity length of the He-Ne plasma tube such that a frequency stability of 2 parts in 109 is obtained by suppression of frequency drifts caused by the phenomena of frequency pulling and polarization anisotropy. This two-longitudinal-mode He-Ne laser yields a high output power of 2.0 mW, which permits multiple measurements of as many as 10 machine axes simultaneously.

© 2002 Optical Society of America

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