Abstract

In this paper, a divided-aperture subtraction-differential confocal method (DASDCM) is proposed to meet the requirements of nanoscale noncontact height measurements for precision machining, materials science, and biology. The DASDCM divides the spot on the detection focal plane into two groups of circular detection areas, which are symmetrical to the optical axis and consist of two concentric detection pinholes with different sizes in each group. Then, the DASDCM uses a subtraction of the intensity signals received from the two detection pinholes in each group to suppress the interference of the nonconjugated information on the intensity signal; it also uses the differential subtraction of two obtained circular detection signals to obtain a sensitive axial response curve. Thereby, the DASDCM greatly improves the axial resolution while considering the signal-to-noise ratio and axial dynamic range of the system and can realize surface height measurement without axial scanning by using the linear range of the axial response curve. Theoretical analysis and preliminary experiments show that DASDCM has an axial resolution of 2 nm with a laser wavelength of λ=632.8nm and a numerical aperture of NA=0.8. It provides an effective technique for nanoscale height detection with high axial resolution.

© 2019 Optical Society of America

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