Confocal microscopy was initially developed to image complex circuits and material defects. Previous imaging studies yielded only qualitative data about the location and number of defects. In the present study, this noninvasive method is used to obtain quantitative information about the Q factor of an optical resonant cavity. Because the intensity of the fluorescent signal measures the number of defects in the resonant cavity, this signal is a measure of the number of surface scattering defects, one of the dominant loss mechanisms in optical microcavities. The Q of the cavities was also determined using conventional linewidth measurements. Based upon a quantitative comparative analysis of these two techniques, it is shown that the Q can be determined without a linewidth measurement, allowing for a noninvasive characterization technique.
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