A simple interferometer for the characterization of axicon lenses is presented. The phase cone acquired by a wave propagating through an axicon, when interfered with a collinear reference wave, produces a nearly cylindrically symmetric self-referenced interference pattern from which the distortions of the axicon surface may be readily obtained. Comparison with two-dimensional off-axis interferometry is used to validate the self-referenced technique. The measurements are based on retrieval of the accrued spatial phase distribution from interference fringes with on- and off-axis reference beams and are found to be equivalent. We use the ellipticity of the phase maps to qualify axicon lenses, which are expected to exhibit radial symmetry and engage the self-referential capability of the on-axis method to derive deviation maps that characterize the surface quality of the axicons.
© 2008 Optical Society of America
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