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Absolute surface topography measurement with polarisation sensitive coherence scanning interferometry

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posted on 03.04.2014, 07:54 by Kanik Palodhi
Traditionally, surface topography measurement was in the domain of quality control of engineering parts. With the advancement of manufacturing technology and affordable computational costs, different types of surfaces are produced with varied shapes and surface textures. These pose significant measurement problems, therefore, surface topography research is gaining momentum to achieve a better control of the surface. Coherence scanning interferometry (CSI) is one of the most common techniques used for measurement of surface topography. It is preferred over tactile and other non-contact techniques since it provides fast and accurate measurement with high vertical (~ 1 nm) and lateral (~1 μm) resolutions over larger areas without any damage to the surface. Essentially, CSI is treated as one dimensional (1D) superposition of the light waves from an object and a reference that generates a three dimensional (3D) interferogram. Secondly, despite the advantages, there is no standard configuration of CSI that can provide absolute surface topography measurement of an engineering part with multiple materials. An effective solution to this problem will be particularly useful in the field of semiconductor and bio-related industries where chips and instruments are made of many materials. In this Thesis, first, the CSI technique is analysed in terms of a wider theoretical framework of 3D linear filtering technique which shows the similarities among other seemingly disparate techniques such as confocal and optical coherence tomography. Due consideration to the spectral characteristic of the source and the effect of numerical aperture are given and important parameters such as vertical and lateral resolutions are computed to compare this theory with standard analysis methods. Additionally, it is shown that the 3D fringe pattern can be considered to be a superposition of a reference field and the scattered field from the top foil-like layer on the top the object. The scattered field from this foil object is dependent on the normal Fresnel reflection coefficients. Therefore, it explains the phase offset and the proportional height offset introduced by different materials, especially, metals. In an object, where multiple materials are present, each material introduces different phase to the fringe pattern and therefore, the surface topography of the entire object is altered. To overcome this problem, the optical polarising properties of the material are exploited. A novel configuration of polarisation sensitive CSI is presented where interferograms with orthogonal circular polarisations are recorded and analysed. The configuration, initially, needs to be calibrated with a material and after that at each point on the object, the refractive index and height offset can be calculated. Therefore, it can be dually used to identify unknown materials present on the object and also to compensate for the height offset introduced by each material to produce absolute surface topography of the entire object. The configuration provides good agreement with ellipsometric results for metals. Additionally, it retains the advantages of high vertical and lateral resolution same as other standard coherence scanning interferometers.


EPSRC, UK and National Physical Laboratory, UK



  • Mechanical, Electrical and Manufacturing Engineering


© Kanik Palodhi

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A Doctoral Thesis. Submitted in partial fulfilment of the requirements for the award of Doctor of Philosophy of Loughborough University.

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