Laser metrology systems are a key component of stellar interferometers, used to monitor path lengths and dimensions internal to the instrument. Most interferometers use 'relative' metrology, in which the integer number of wavelengths along the path is unknown, and the measurement of length is ambiguous. Changes in the path length can be measured relative to an initial calibration point, but interruption of the metrology beam at any time requires a re-calibration of the system.
The MSTAR sensor (Modulation Sideband Technology for Absolute Ranging) is a new system for measuring absolute distance, capable of resolving the integer cycle ambiguity of standard interferometers, and making it possible to measure distance with sub-nanometer accuracy. We describe the design of the system, show results for target distances up to 1 meter, and demonstrate how the system can be scaled to kilometer-scale distances. In recent experiments, we have used white light interferometry to augment the 'truth' measurements and validate the zero-point of the system.
MSTAR is a general-purpose tool for conveniently measuring length with much greater accuracy than was previously possible, and has a wide range of possible applications.© (2004) COPYRIGHT SPIE--The International Society for Optical Engineering. Downloading of the abstract is permitted for personal use only.