An optical configuration for parallel two-step phase-shifting digital holographic microscopy (DHM) based on a grating pair is proposed for the purpose of real-time phase microscopy. Orthogonally circularly polarized object and reference waves are diffracted twice by a pair of gratings, and two parallel copies for each beams come into being. Combined with polarization elements, parallel two-step phase-shifting holograms are obtained. Based on the proposed configuration, two schemes of DHM, i.e., slightly off-axis and on-axis DHM, have been implemented. The slightly off-axis DHM suppresses the dc term by subtracting the two phase-shifting holograms from each other, thus the requirement on the off-axis angle and sampling power of the CCD camera is reduced greatly. The on-axis DHM has the least requirement on the resolving power of the CCD camera, while it requires that the reference wave is premeasured and its intensity is no less than 2 times the maximal intensity of the object wave.
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