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Modern Interferometry

Newsletter – Teaching Modern Interferometry
Conceptual Introduction – Modern Interferometry

Modern Interferometry Brochure
Lab Topics :
Quantum Optics
Modern Physics

  • Research-Grade Interferometry Kit
  • Build Michelson, Sagnac, and Mach-Zehnder Configurations
  • Proprietary Flexure Mirror Mounts
  • Proprietary High-Stability Flexure Translation Stage
  • Generate and Count Interference Fringes Manually or Electronically
  • Observe Sub-Wavelength Changes, 10-2 -10-4 λ Changes
  • Wide Range of Experiments Including:
    • Thermal Expansion
    • Magnetostriction
    • Electro-Optic Effects
    • Piezoelectric Deformation
    • Index of Refraction in Gasses and Slabs
    • White Light Interferometry
    • Plus Many Open-Ended Variations
TeachSpin's Modern Interferometry MI1-A offers the physics community a research grade interferometry "kit" designed specifically for advanced and intermediate student laboratory instruction. The modular design includes all of the necessary components to create a variety of versions of three distinctly different types of interferometers: Michelson, Sagnac and Mach-Zehnder.

Along with optical components and detectors, the kit includes all of the light sources needed for the wide variety of possible investigations included in the manual. In addition to a He-Ne and a variable-temperature red diode laser, a bi-colored LED and a halogen lamp are included for the study of white-light interferometry. The electronic controller is used not only to count fringes but also to support the optical detectors and the power supplies needed for all of the various light sources.

The photograph above shows a Michelson interferometer. You can see the He-Ne laser and the two steering mirrors that deliver the beam to the interferometer proper. Both the beamsplitters and the end-mirror mounts are proprietary designs, optimized for stability and simplicity of alignment. The electronic detector complements the visual detection of the fringes.

The prototypes for the proprietary high stability flexure mirror mounts were designed by Science Research Laboratory, Inc. (SRL) of Somerville, MA as part of an educational interferometer developed under an NSF SBIR. With large mirror surfaces and flexure tilts that allow only one degree of freedom, these mounts make alignment not only impressively stable but also far more straightforward.

At TeachSpin, the development team of Drs. George Herold, David Van Baak and Jonathan Reichert expanded the initial Sagnac interferometer system into a wide ranging, open-ended "kit" which offers students a large "intellectual phase space" in which to learn experimental physics. Looking for a way to observe minute changes, Van Baak designed a proprietary high stability flexure translation stage which allows a full millimeter of motion with no loss of fringe contrast. (We expect that this translation stage may well find other uses!)

The hardest part of building this kit was getting the TeachSpin team to stop adding new experiments and let faculty and students have a turn taking advantage of the impressive capabilities of this student-friendly system.

Please read about it in the Modern Interferometry Brochure (PDF 3.5 MB).