We describe the design and operation of a long-working-distance, incoherent light interference microscope that has been developed to address the growing demand for new microsystem characterization tools. The design of the new microscope is similar to that of a Linnik interference microscope and thus preserves the full working distance of the long-working-distance objectives utilized. However, in contrast to a traditional Linnik microscope, the new microscope does not rely on the use of matched objectives in the sample and the reference arms of the interferometer. An adjustable optical configuration has been devised that allows the total optical path length, wavefront curvature, and dispersion of the reference arm to be matched to the sample arm of the interferometer. The reference arm configuration can be adjusted to provide matching for 5×, 10×, and 20× long-working-distance objectives in the sample arm. In addition to retaining the full working distance of the sample arm objectives, the new design allows interference images to be acquired in situations in which intervening windows are necessary, such as occur with packaged microsystems, microfluidic devices, and cryogenic, vacuum, or environmental chamber studies of microsystem performance. The interference microscope is compatible with phase-shifting interferometry, vertical scanning interferometry, and stroboscopic measurement of dynamic processes.
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