An amplitude-sensitive technique associated with a heterodyne interferometer for detecting small differential phase is reported. The excess noise with the amplitude-sensitive technique is reduced by optical subtraction instead of electronic subtraction. The differential phase introduced by the orthogonally polarized laser beams is converted to the amplitudes of two heterodyne interferometric signals, which presents amplitude and phase quadrature simultaneously. Thus the excess noise power and quantum noise power are both differential phase dependent. The advantages of differential and additive operations by optical technique and the real time differential phase determination without phase lock in are demonstrated experimentally. The theoretical signal-to-noise ratio (SNR) and minimum detectable differential phase are derived, which takes quantum noise and excess noise into consideration. The experimental results demonstrated the resolutions of differential phase detection closes to level over bandwidth and at level over bandwidth, respectively, under incident power.
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