A polarization phase shifting interferometer using a cyclic path configuration for measurement of phase nonuniformities in transparent samples is presented. A cube beam splitter masked by two linear polarizers is used to split the source wavefront into two counter propagating linearly polarized beams that pass through the sample. At the output of the interferometer, the two orthogonally polarized beams are rendered circularly polarized in the opposite sense through the use of a quarter wave plate. Finally, phase shifting is achieved by rotating a linear polarizer before the recording plane. In a rectangular path interferometer, although the two counter propagating wavefronts are laterally folded with respect to each other in the interferometer arms, the beams finally emerge mutually unfolded at the output of the interferometer. This phenomenon is utilized to create a reference if the sample is introduced in one lateral half of the beam in any one of the interferometer arms. The polarization phase shifting technique is used to generate four phase-shifted interferograms, which are utilized to evaluate the phase profile of the phase sample. Experimental results presented validate the proposed technique.
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Anthony J. Montgomery
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