Abstract

A measurement method based on interferometry with two different reference cavity lengths is presented and applied in air refractive index measurement in which the two cavity lengths and a laser wavelength are combined to generate two wavelength equivalents of cavity. Corresponding calculation equations are derived, and the optical path configuration is designed, which is inspired by the traditional synthetic wavelength method. Theoretical analyses indicate that the measurement uncertainty of the determined index of refraction is about 2.3×108, which is mainly affected by the length precision of the long vacuum cavity and the ellipticity of polarization components of the dual-frequency laser, and the range of nonambiguity is 3.0×105, which is decided by the length difference of the two cavities. Experiment results show that the accuracy of air refractive index measurement is better than 5.0×108 when the laboratory conditions changes slowly. The merit of the presented method is that the classical refractometry can be also used without evacuation of the gas cavity during the experiment. Furthermore, the application of the traditional synthetic wavelength method may be extended by using the wavelength equivalents of cavity, any value of which can be easily acquired by changing cavity length rather than using actual wavelengths whose number is limited.

© 2012 Optical Society of America

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