High precision metrology systems based on heterodyne interferometry can measure the position and attitude of objects to accuracies of picometer and nanorad, respectively. A frequently found feature of the general system design is the subtraction of a reference phase from the phase of the position interferometer, which suppresses low frequency common mode amplitude and phase fluctuations occurring in volatile optical path sections shared by both the position and reference interferometer. Spectral components of the noise at frequencies around or higher than the heterodyne frequency, however, are generally transmitted into the measurement band and may limit the measurement accuracy. Detailed analytical calculations complemented with Monte Carlo simulations show that high frequency noise components may also be entirely suppressed, depending on the relative difference of measurement and reference phase, which may be exploited by corresponding design provisions. While these results are applicable to any heterodyne interferometer with certain design characteristics, specific calculations and related discussions are given for the example of the optical metrology system of the LISA Pathfinder mission to space.
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