Vol. 50, Issue 1, pp. 69-81
polarization phase-shifting technique, cyclic interferometric configuration, non-destructive thickness measurements, transparent thin-films
An alternative polarization phase-shifting technique is proposed to determine the thickness of transparent thin-films. In this study, the cyclic interferometric configuration is chosen to maintain the stability of the operation against external vibrations. The incident light is simply split by a non-polarizing beam splitter cube to generate test and reference beams, which are subsequently polarized by a polarizing beam splitter. Both linearly polarized beams are orthogonal and counter-propagating within the interferometer. A wave plate is inserted into the common paths to introduce an intrinsic phase difference between the orthogonal polarized beams. A transparent thin-film sample, placed in one of the beam tracks, modifies the output signal in terms of the phase retardation in comparison with the reference beam. The proposed phase-shifting technique uses a moving mirror with a set of “fixed” polarizing elements, namely, a quarter-wave retarder and a polarizer, to facilitate phase extraction without rotating any polarizing devices. The measured thicknesses are compared with the measurements of the same films acquired using standard equipment such as the field-emission scanning electron microscope and spectroscopic ellipsometer. Experimental results with the corresponding measured values are in good agreement with commercial measurements. The system can be reliably utilized for non-destructive thickness measurements of transparent thin-films.