This work considers the estimation of dispersion in materials via an interferometric technique. At its core, the problem involves extracting the quadratic variation in phase over a range of wavelengths based on measured optical intensity. The estimation problem becomes extremely difficult for weakly dispersive materials where the quadratic nonlinearity is very small relative to the uncertainty inherent in experiment. This work provides a means of estimating dispersion in the face of such uncertainty. Specifically, we use a Markov Chain Monte Carlo implementation of Bayesian analysis to provide both the dispersion estimate and the associated confidence interval. The interplay between various system parameters and the size of the resulting confidence interval is discussed. The approach is then applied to several different experimental samples.
© 2010 Optical Society of America
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