Abstract

The fundamental mechanism of attenuated total-reflectance spectroscopy is elucidated. The characteristic minimum in the reflected intensity is interpreted as being a result of the interference between two events indistinguishable to the detector: the incoming photon either is totally reflected or is virtually converted into a surface-mode quantum. A simple universal resonance formula is derived that accounts satisfactorily for both the amplitude and the phase of the reflected light.

© 1994 Optical Society of America

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