Compared with conventional photometric methods of measuring cell parameters, including the cell gap and the pretilt angle of a nematic parallel-aligned liquid crystal (PALC) using multiple wavelengths at normal incidence, this research proposes the use of a phase-sensitive interferometric ellipsometer to determine cell parameters precisely based on a single wavelength at large oblique incidence angles. The advantage of this method is that it detects the phase difference using an optical heterodyne interferometer in which a common phase noise rejection mode is provided. Thus, there is a high signal-to-noise ratio (SNR) on the phase measurement. In addition, a range of large oblique incidence angles on the PALC is used so that a high sensitivity measurement of the cell parameters is obtained experimentally. During the measurements, the multiple reflections and spatial shifting effect of the emerging extraordinary ray (E-ray) and ordinary ray (O-ray) from the PALC at large oblique incidence angles are able to be reduced effectively by the use of retro-reflected geometry in the interferometer. The experimental results verify that the sensitivities for the cell gap and pretilt angle measurements are 0.3 nm and 0.01°, respectively.
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