We present a surprising modification of optical interferometry. A so-called spiral phase element in the beam path of a standard microscope results in an interferogram of phase samples, for which the interference fringes have the shape of spirals instead of closed contour lines as in traditional interferograms. This configuration overrides the basic problem of interferometry, i.e., that elevations and depressions cannot be distinguished. Therefore a complete sample profile can be reconstructed from a single exposure, promising, e.g., high-speed metrology with a single laser pulse. The method is easy to implement, it does not require a spatially separated reference beam, and it is optimally stable against environmental noise.
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