Interferometers that use different states of polarization for the reference and the test beams can modulate the relative phase shift by using polarization optics in the imaging system. Thus the interferometer can capture simultaneous images that have a fixed phase shift, which can be used for phase-shifting interferometry. As all measurements are made simultaneously, the interferometer is not sensitive to vibration. Fizeau interferometers of this type have an advantage compared with Twyman–Green-type systems because they are common-path interferometers. However, a polarization Fizeau interferometer is not strictly common path when both wavefronts are transmitted by an optic that suffers from birefringence. The two polarized beams see different phases owing to birefringence; as a result, an error can be introduced in the measurement. We study the effect of birefringence on measurement accuracy when different polarization techniques are used in Fizeau interferometers. We demonstrate that measurement error is reduced dramatically and can be eliminated if the reference and test beams are circularly polarized rather than linearly polarized.
© 2005 Optical Society of America
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