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 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 measured. In this paper we briefly review our historical application of SHI in the semiconductor industry, but the focus is on new research to adapt this technology to the inspection of MEMS devices, in particular to the characterization of motion elements such as microcantilevers and deformable mirror arrays.© (2007) COPYRIGHT SPIE--The International Society for Optical Engineering. Downloading of the abstract is permitted for personal use only.