The invention uses the phase shifting diffraction interferometer (PSDI) to provide a true point-by-point measurement of absolute flatness over the surface of optical flats. Beams exiting the fiber optics in a PSDI have perfect spherical wavefronts. The measurement beam is reflected from the optical flat and passed through an auxiliary optic to then be combined with the reference beam on a CCD. The combined beams include phase errors due to both the optic under test and the auxiliary optic. Standard phase extraction algorithms are used to calculate this combined phase error. The optical flat is then removed from the system and the measurement fiber is moved to recombine the two beams. The newly combined beams include only the phase errors due to the auxiliary optic. When the second phase measurement is subtracted from the first phase measurement, the absolute phase error of the optical flat is obtained.
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.