A constant volume gas cell optical phase-shifter, particularly applicable for phase-shifting interferometry, contains a sealed volume of atmospheric gas at a pressure somewhat different than atmospheric. An optical window is present at each end of the cell, and as the length of the cell is changed, the optical path length of a laser beam traversing the cell changes. The cell comprises movable coaxial tubes with seals and a volume equalizing opening. Because the cell is constant volume, the pressure, temperature, and density of the contained gas do not change as the cell changes length. This produces an exactly linear relationship between the change in the length of the gas cell and the change in optical phase of the laser beam traversing it. Because the refractive index difference between the gas inside and the atmosphere outside is very much the same, a large motion must be made to change the optical phase by the small fraction of a wavelength that is required by phase-shifting interferometry for its phase step. This motion can be made to great fractional accuracy.
CONSTANT VOLUME GAS CELL OPTICAL PHASE-SHIFTER
The United States Government has rights in this invention pursuant to Contract No. W-7405-ENG-48 between the United States Department of Energy and the University of California for the operation of Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory.