Interferometric imaging has the potential to extend the usefulness of optical microscopes by encoding small phase shifts that reveal information about topology and materials. At the Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL), we have developed an optical Spatial Heterodyne Interferometry (SHI) method that captures reflection or transmission images containing both phase and amplitude information at a high rate of speed. By measuring the phase of a wavefront reflected off or transmitted through a surface, the relative surface heights and some materials properties can be determined. In this paper we briefly review a variety of application areas where this technology has been applied including semiconductor wafer inspection, photolithographic mask metrology and inspection, and we conclude with a discussion regarding future work to apply SHI to MEMS device characterization.© (2006) COPYRIGHT SPIE--The International Society for Optical Engineering. Downloading of the abstract is permitted for personal use only.