A new approach to automatic null ellipsometry is described in which the analyzer of a traditional polarizer compensator sample analyzer (PCSA) null ellipsometer is replaced with a heterodyne Michelson interferometer. One arm of this interferometer is modified such that it produces a fixed, linearly polarized reference beam, irrespective of the input polarization state. This beam is recombined interferometrically with the measurement beam and spatially separated into its p and s polarizations. The relative phase of the resulting temporal fringes is a linear function of the polarizer azimuthal angle P, and thus this component can be driven to its null position without iteration. Once at null, the azimuthal angle of the reflected, linearly polarized light is trivially determined from the relative amplitude of the fringes. Measurements made with this instrument on a native oxide film on a silicon wafer were in excellent agreement with those made with a traditional PCSA null ellipsometer.
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