The application of laser technology has been extended to optical shop testing by incorporating a cw, helium–neon gas laser in a package that houses a modified Twyman–Green interferometer. This modification provides for optical testing over large path differences with an auxiliary set of lenses used in the long path and a small reference flat used in the short path of the interferometer. With this technique, f/0.7 spherical mirrors have been tested (at the center of curvature) to an accuracy of wavelength at the surface, and various other optical systems have been tested in both double pass and single pass. Two of the advantages of this testing method are (1) the capability of testing spherical concave surfaces without physically contacting the surface and (2) the ability to use small reference surfaces for large optical components or systems. The device known as a laser unequal path interferometer can be used with a set of null lenses to qualify aspheric surfaces. The unit is portable and capable of testing in any orientation under various environmental conditions. Several applications of this device are presented to illustrate its versatility.
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