Abstract

We present a refractometer based on the principle of total internal reflection that can sensitively record, in real time, the refractive index of fluids over a wide range of refractive indices. The device uses a divergent laser beam and a linear diode array, and has no mechanical or optical moving parts, enabling us to achieve the measurement of a refractive index at a sensitivity level of 106. Our refractometer does not rely on interferometry, thus enabling the device to be compact, portable, and inexpensive. To the best of our knowledge, this is the first time a noninterferometric device that performs real-time differential refractometry with a sensitivity of better than 105 has been demonstrated in the literature. We show that our experimental results agree very well with Fresnel theory. We establish a theoretical limit on the sensitivity of this class of refractometers.

© 2006 Optical Society of America

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