Interference and laser feedback optical microscopy
This thesis concerns the development of simple, compact scanning optical microscopes which can obtain confocal and interference images. The effects of feeding the reflected signal back into the laser cavity of a confocal microscope are investigated and exploited. Monomode optical fibres are used to perform the spatial filtering required for confocal microscopy and, later, as the source of reference beams for interferometry. The theory describing the basic operation of the microscopes is developed. The optical systems are modelled using scalar diffraction theory and the effects of optical feedback into the laser cavity are described, with the practical implications emphasised. A fully reciprocal arrangement of the microscope is developed, in which a single mode optical fibre both launches the signal towards the object and then collects the reflected signal. The fibre is shown to exhibit the spatial filtering properties required for the source and detector in a confocal microscope. It is shown that a semiconductor laser can be used as a detector of the amplitude of the object signal. This is first demonstrated by directing the microscope signal back into the laser cavity and measuring the variation of the optical intensity in the cavity itself. Comparable results are obtained when the variation of the junction voltage across the cavity is measured. It is also shown that the optical fibre is redundant in this system, since the lasing mode of the cavity itself is sufficiently small to adequately spatially filter the reflected signal. When a Helium-Neon laser is used as the source of illumination the effect of the feedback on the laser is seen to be very different, resulting in interferometry. It is shown that high frequency modulation techniques can be used to obtain both confocal images and surface profiles from the same system. This is first demonstrated using an optical feedback scheme in which the modulation of the optical path length of the object beam is controlled electrooptically. In an alternative scheme the images are obtained by calculation, rather than by using a control loop system. In this case the modulation is achieved mechanically. The theoretical limits for the resolutions of the systems described are discussed. It is shown that the lateral resolution of the surface profile systems is inherently non-linear with feature height. Finally, a semiconductor laser based microscope is developed which can obtain confocal images and surface profiles independently. The dependence of the wavelength on the injection current is exploited as a convenient means of introducing a phase shift into the feedback signal by which profilometry can be achieved. All the systems are described theoretically and demonstrated experimentally.