Polarization Phase-shifting Technique for the Determination of a Transparent Thin Film's Thickness Using a Modified Sagnac Interferometer
We propose a polarization phase-shifting technique to investigate the thickness of $Ta_2O_5$ thin films deposited on BK7 substrates, using a modified Sagnac interferometer. Incident light is split by a polarizing beam splitter into two orthogonal linearly polarized beams traveling in opposite directions, and a quarter-wave plate is inserted into the common path to create an unbalanced phase condition. The linearly polarized light beams are transformed into two circularly polarized beams by transmission through a quarter-wave plate placed at the output of the interferometer. The proposed setup, therefore, yields rotating polarized light that can be used to extract a relative phase via the self-reference system. A thin-film sample inserted into the cyclic path modifies the output signal, in terms of the phase retardation. This technique utilizes three phase-shifted intensities to evaluate the phase retardation via simple signal processing, without manual adjustment of the output polarizer, which subsequently allows the thin film's thickness to be determined. Experimental results show that the thicknesses obtained from the proposed setup are in good agreement with those acquired by a field-emission scanning electron microscope and a spectroscopic ellipsometer. Thus, the proposed interferometric arrangement can be utilized reliably for non-contact thickness measurements of transparent thin films and characterization of optical devices.
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