A new real-time laser differential confocal microscopy (RLDCM) without sample reflectivity difference effects is proposed for imaging height topography of sample surface, which divides the confocal microscopy imaging light path into two confocal microscopy imaging paths before and after focus with the equal axial detector offset oriented in opposite direction. By dividing the difference of the two signals simultaneously detected from these two confocal imaging paths by the higher signal between these two signals, RLDCM separates the signal that comes from reflectivity heterogeneity from the topographic signal in real time for the first time. RLDCM significantly reduces the height topography imaging time by single-layer scanning for the sample surface with reflectivity heterogeneity, and it achieves high axial resolution and lateral resolution similar to CM by optimizing the axial detector offset. Theoretical analysis and experimental results demonstrate that RLDCM realizes the real-time surface imaging for line structures featuring Silicon Dioxide steps on a Silicon base and achieves 2-nm axial depth resolution without reducing lateral resolution.
© 2014 Optical Society of America
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