What we believe to be a new technique for the measurement of two-dimensional retardation distributions of a wave plate (WP) is presented. Phase-shifting interferometry has been applied for determining the relative retardation distribution using a Nomarski prism (NP) as a phase shifter. Absolute retardation distribution is obtained by accurately determining the position of zero retardation in the interference field using white light interference fringes and adjusting the phase distribution with respect to the zero retardation position. The measured absolute retardation distribution of the NP is subtracted from that obtained for the combination of the WP and NP, to get the desired retardation distributions for the WP. The technique is suitable for the measurement of phase retardation of both single and multiple order WPs, as the actual phase retardation distributions are obtained. Results obtained for WPs are presented.
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