Abstract

Radially self-accelerating light exhibits an intensity pattern that describes a spiraling trajectory around the optical axis as the beam propagates. In this article, we show in simulation and experiment how such beams can be used to perform a high-accuracy distance measurement with respect to a reference using simple off-axis intensity detection. We demonstrate that generating beams whose intensity pattern simultaneously spirals with fast and slow rotation components enables a distance measurement with high accuracy over a broad range, using the high and low rotation frequency, respectively. In our experiment, we achieve an accuracy of around 2 µm over a longitudinal range of more than 2 mm using a single beam and only two quadrant detectors. Because our method relies on single-beam interference and only requires a static generation and simple intensity measurements, it is intrinsically stable and could find applications in high-speed measurements of longitudinal position.

© 2021 Optical Society of America

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Data underlying the results presented in this paper are not publicly available at this time but may be obtained from the authors upon reasonable request.

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