A new instrument, the polarization phase-shifting point-diffraction interferometer, has been developed by use of a birefringent pinhole plate. The interferometer uses polarization to separate the test and reference beams, interfering what begin as orthogonal polarization states. The instrument is compact, simple to align, and vibration insensitive and can phase shift without moving parts or separate reference optics. The theory of the interferometer is presented, along with properties and fabrication techniques for the birefringent pinhole plate and a new model used to determine the quality of the reference wavefront from the pinhole as a function of pinhole size and test optic aberrations. The performance of the interferometer is also presented, along with a detailed error analysis and experimental results.
© 2006 Optical Society of America
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