Point Sensors

Interferometric Sensors

Authored by: William N. MacPherson

Handbook of Optical Sensors

Print publication date:  October  2014
Online publication date:  October  2014

Print ISBN: 9781439866856
eBook ISBN: 9781439866863
Adobe ISBN:


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Optical interference is readily observed in the natural world; the colorful patterns of oil films on water or swirling patterns seen in the delicate walls of soap bubbles vividly demonstrate the effect of the interference of light. In such examples, the color is not a result of material absorption or pigmentation, but rather, it is due to the interference of light as it interacts with a thin optical film, in these cases, the oil or soapy water, respectively. The colors observed depend upon the optical thickness of the film and are evident even for physical film thicknesses that are less than the wavelength of the illuminating light. This ability to gather information on subwavelength dimensions demonstrates the measurement resolution achievable with interferometry. This subject has seen extensive application both in the well-controlled laboratory environment and in many real-world applications, particularly in situations where more conventional electrical sensors are unsuitable. When applied to scientific and engineering measurement problems, it has proven to be a powerful tool for precision metrology.

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