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Flatness measurement by a grazing Ronchi test

No Alcal Ochoa, Miguel Mora-Gonzlez and Fernando Mendoza Santoyo

Centro de Investigaciones en Optica, Apartado Postal 1-948, Len, Guanajuato, Mxico

Abstract: The Ronchi test with a LCD amplitude sinusoidal grating is used
for testing nominally flat surfaces. We prove that it is possible to measure
flat surfaces without using a reference element by modifying the common
optical Ronchi set up. The Ronchi rulings are computer generated and
displayed on the LCD. By displaying various phase-shifted rulings and
capturing the corresponding images, the phase is obtained with the
conventional phase-shifting algorithms. Theoretical and experimental results
are shown.
2003 Optical Society of America
OCIS codes: (160.3710) Liquid crystals; (050.5080) Phase shift; (050.1950) Diffraction
gratings; (100.2650) Fringe analysis; (120.4630) Optical inspection.

References and links

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1910-1914 (1991).
H. Nrge, J. Schwider, Testing of cylindrical lenses by grazing incidence interferometry, Optik 111,
545-555 (2000).
Peter de Groot, Diffractive grazing-incidence interferometer, Appl. Opt. 39, 1527-1530 (2000).
M. Mora Gonzlez and N. Alcal Ochoa, The Ronchi test with an LCD grating, Opt. Commun. 191,
203-207 (2001).
M. Mora-Gonzlez and N. Alcal Ochoa, Sinusoidal liquid crystal display grating in the Ronchi test,
Opt. Eng. 42, 1725-1729 (2003).
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Filtering, J. Opt. Soc. Am. 59, 1432-1439 (1969).
J. E. Greivenkamp, J. H. Bruning, Phase Shifting Interferometry, Chapter 14 in Optical Shop Testing, D.
Malacara, Ed., pp. 548-551, Wiley, New York, (1992).
K. Hibino, D.I. Farrant, B.K. Ward, and B.F. Oreb, Dynamic range of Ronchi test with a phase-shifted
sinusoidal grating, Appl. Opt. 36, 6178-6189 (1997).
R.M. Goldstein, H.A. Zebker, and C.L. Werner, Satellite radar interferometry: two-dimensional phase
unwrapping, Radio Science, 23, 713-720 (1988).

1. Introduction
Testing the flatness of surfaces generally involves the use of interferometers that have an
explicit flat reference surface. For example, a Fizeau interferometer uses a flat at least of the
same dimensions than the testing element. With a grazing incidence interferometer the area of
the reference element is reduced by a factor that depends of the grazing angle, also it is
possible to measure rough surfaces1,2,3, cylindrical lens4, etc. There are also several
configurations for making the interference5 . The basic principle of this interferometer is that
an unpolished surface becomes more reflective when the wavelength of the illuminating beam
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Received August 12, 2003; Revised August 24, 2003

8 September 2003 / Vol. 11, No. 18 / OPTICS EXPRESS 2177

is increased. This reflection phenomenon is also observed when the surface under test is
illuminated with a beam that makes a large angle with the normal to the surface. In this latter
case we may speak of an equivalent wavelength. Relative to this equivalent wavelength, the
surface appears polished enough to yield interference fringes.
In 2001 we reported a Liquid Crystal Display (LCD) method for testing concave mirrors6,
which in 2003 was improved with the introduction of digital sinusoidal gratings instead of
binary7. The purpose of this work is to show that with the Ronchi test it is possible the
accuracy quantitative evaluation of flat surfaces under a grazing configuration. With this
method is not necessary to make a reference beam (neither its optics) or use beam splitting
methods to generate the reference. Another advantage is that the phase shifting is done
digitally, without moving parts, just by displaying the rulings with different phases on the
In the following sections we shall describe the Ronchi test under a grazing configuration,
we then describe the experimental set-up and also the image processing techniques that we
used to implement the digital test. Finally, in the last two sections we present the results and
the conclusions respectively.
2. Theory of the grazing Ronchi test with an LCD
Figure 1 shows a schematic drawing of the grazing Ronchi set-up. The beam of a frequency
stabilized, 4 mW, He-Ne laser is expanded by a weakly divergent lens (not shown) to fill the
aperture of a low power microscope objective (MO). The objective focuses the beam at a
spatial filter (SF), placed at the focal plane of an achromatic doublet (DB1), with a 62 mm
clear diameter. The doublet collimates the beam, which illuminates the surface under test that
is placed on top of a metal plate with a 320 mm long by 32.5 mm wide rectangular aperture.
The beam that is reflected from this surface is focused at the LCD, placed near the focal plane
of a second achromatic doublet (DB2). To image the surface under test through the doublet
DB2 a small doublet (DB3) attached to a CCD camera is used. What we needed was to image
the entire slot in the metal plate that supports the surface under test within the camera CCD

Fig. 1 Schematic diagram of the Grazing Ronchi Device used for testing flat surfaces.

The pixelated structure of the LCD replicates the image of the surface under test on the
CCD. To eliminate this effect on the Fourier plane of DB2 only the zero order is passed by a
mask (h).
The basic idea of this method is that the plane wavefront reflected by the surface under test
is modified in phase by the surface irregularities. This phase changes modify the shape of the
fringes displayed on the LCD giving a deformed fringe pattern called a ronchigram.
Let us denote by w(x, y) the wavefront deformation caused by the surface. The wavefront
at the doublet DB2 is stretched in the x-direction by a factor 1/cos(), where is the angle of
incidence of the object beam on the surface under test respect to its normal. Let D(x,y) be the
function that accounts for the surface departures from an ideal plane. If the gradient of D(x,y)
is assumed very small throughout the entire inspection area of the surface under test, we can
use the following approximation:
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Received August 12, 2003; Revised August 24, 2003

8 September 2003 / Vol. 11, No. 18 / OPTICS EXPRESS 2178

D ( x, y )

w( x, y )
2 cos( )

w( x , y )



where is the wavelength of the light source, and

eqv = cos( )


is the equivalent wavelength of the interferometer. In our case =80 , =0.6328 m and
eqv =3.6441 m. It means that the grazing Ronchi test is eqv / =5.76 times less sensitive

than the Ronchi test under normal conditions, i.e., =0o.

The wavefront at DB2 is represented by a complex diffracted function F0(x0, y0) which is
zero outside the limits imposed by its aperture and
F0 ( x0 , y0 ) = exp(i 2w( x0 , y 0 ) )
inside, where x0=x/cos() and y0=y are the horizontal and vertical axes, respectively, of a
right-handed rectangular coordinate system, with its origin on the optical axis.
The LCD-ruling is placed at an axial distance r from DB2, almost at its plane of
convergence. In this case the complex amplitude distribution at the ruling is given by8

F ( x , y ) exp

( xr x0 + y r y 0 ) dx0 dy0 ,

U ( xr , y r ) =


where is the illumination wavelength. At the focal plane (fc) of the collimating lens, the
observation plane, is

U (x , y

) M ( x r , y r ) exp i

( x r x1 + y r y1 ) dx r dy r

G ( x1 , y1 ) =


where M(xr, yr) is the mathematical representation of the LCD-ruling, xr and yr are the
horizontal and vertical axes at the ruling position, respectively. The LCD is considered as a
rectangular array of rectangular pixels. The pixels have dimensions and spacing of ax by ay
and x by y, respectively. With the help of the sampling theorem, the function M(xr, yr) can
be written as9

xr y r
ax ay


xr y r
x y

M ( x r , y r ) = m R ( x r , y r ) rect


where ** denotes a two-dimensional convolution, comb function is an array of delta functions

with the same spacing as the pixels and mR is the mathematical continuous function
representation of the ruling to be displayed on the LCD. For example, an amplitude sinusoidal
ruling along the horizontal xr-axis is given by

x r
1 + cos


mR ( xr , y r ) =


where 2p is the period and A the maximum amplitude (in our case A=255 grey levels) and is
a phase shift parameter determined by the initial position of the grating. The function M(xr, yr),
Eq. (6), represents the non-continuous amplitude sinusoidal grating sampled by the pixilated
structure of the LCD. The pixelization produces a diffraction pattern in which each diffraction
order comprises the laterally sheared images of the pupil, i.e. the ronchigrams.
Now, the intensity profile of the ronchigram at the detector plane I(x1, y1)=|G(x1, y1) G*(x1,
y1)| is calculated from Eqs. (4) and (5) with M(xr, yr) and F0(x0, y0) given by Eqs. (6-7) and Eq.
(3) respectively, giving7

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I ( x1 , y1; ) = C + 4V ( x1 , y1 )cos[ (x1 , y1 ) ] + ( x1 , y1 ),

w(x1 , y1 )
w(x1 , y1 )
cos( )
sin( )


( x1 , y1 ) =



where C is a dc term, V(x1, y1) is the fringes visibility, (x1, y1) represents undesirable noise
term, (x1, y1) is the object phase difference to be measured and is the angle the ruling makes
with the y1 axis. It is seen in Eq. (8) that shifting the origin of the sinusoidal grating changes
the phase of the ronchigrams by the same amount. This shift is done by software, i.e. by
changing the origin of the ruling.
As it is seen from Eqs. (7) and (8), displaying sinusoidal gratings with a phase shift ,
implies a shift of the phase by the same amount. Due that the ruling period on the LCD is
known, it is known also the discrete shift, i.e. if the period is 24 pixels, shifting the grating by
6 pixels shifts the ronchigrams by /2 rad without any errors, except the alignments of the
pixel during the LCD fabrication.
Thus to recover the phase, and in consequence the wavefront deviations, phase shifting
algorithms are a suitable option. If we display four sinusoidal gratings with =p/2 and their
respective intensities are recorded, the phase is calculated with the Equation

I ( x1 , y1 ;2 ) I (x1 , y1 ;0 )
I (x1 , y1 ;3 ) I ( x1 , y1 ;1 )

( x1 , y1 ) = arctg


Clearly, the phase obtained is wrapped into the interval [-, ] and an unwrapping process
is necessary.
From Eqs. (9) and (10) it is seen that the phase obtained from the Ronchi test give
information only of the derivatives of the target function w(x1, y1) then an integration
procedure is necessary6. To recover unambiguously the deformations is necessary to perform
the test twice using rulings with at least two directions, i.e. two values of . The faster is
setting =0 (vertical ruling) and =/2 (horizontal ruling). The algorithm we used to perform
the integration of the horizontal and vertical unwrapped phases is described in ref [6]. It is
based on a fitting procedure where the desired wavefront phase is represented by a 2D
polynomial of the kth degree, with k=5. This function is x and y differentiated to obtain two
functions with unknown coefficients. The horizontal and vertical unwrapped phases are used
to fit, in the least squares sense, each one of these functions. Once the coefficients of the
derivatives are calculated the phase function coefficients are calculated from those.
3. Experimental results
The optical set-up that we used for carrying out our experiments is depicted in Fig. 1. We
place a piece of common glass (window glass) on the top plate and by means of adjustment
screws the image is centred on the CCD (the area under test was about 32mmx130mm). The
collimated light picked up by the CCD was transferred to a frame grabber installed in a PC
and displayed on its monitor. Now, the sinusoidal grating, mR was computer generated and
displayed on the LCD: the deformed grating image (ronchigram) was observed on the
computer screen. In general the frequencies of the rulings displayed by the PC monitor did not
match with those displayed by the LCD, so a calibration procedure is necessary. We did it
with the help of a 100x microscope (VZM 1000).
The LCD screen used was a pocket KOPIN CiberDisplayTM320, 0.24" diagonal size, and
320x240 square pixels of 15m x15 m.
The frame grabber used to capture the ronchigrams was the VFG-100 from Imaging Tech.
and our images had 256x240 pixels and 256 grey levels.

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8 September 2003 / Vol. 11, No. 18 / OPTICS EXPRESS 2180

A vertical digital sinusoidal ruling (2p=0.36 mm) was displayed on the LCD. An initial
ronchigram (I1) was grabbed and stored in the computer [Fig. 2(a)]. The digital ruling was
shifted causing the ronchigram to be shifted by /2 rad in phase (I2). The same process
followed for the other two images. Once the four ronchigrams were captured, they were
smoothed by a convolution operation with a 5x5 matrix. Then Eq. (10) was applied, resulting
in the wrapped phase shown in Fig. 2b, which was later unwrapped11.



Fig. 2. Experimental results obtained with a digital vertical sinusoidal grating (a) Ronchigram.
(b) Wrapped phase corresponding to the four vertical ronchigrams shifted in phase.

By displaying horizontal sinusoidal rulings and following the same capturing and data
processing followed for vertical rulings, we obtain the horizontal wrapped phase (not shown).
The deformations D(x,y) [Eq. 1] of the glass with respect to an ideal plane were calculated by
integrating the corresponding horizontal and vertical unwrapped phases6, having a Peak to
Valley and RMS deviations of 2.03 and 0.29 respectively [Fig. 3]. In order to assess the
proposed method, the same optical element was tested with a commercial Fizeau
interferometer [Fig. 4]. We found a Peak to Valley and RMS deviations of 1.98 and 0.34

Fig. 3. Surface topography obtained with the Ronchi test after unwrapping the horizontal and
vertical wrapped ronchigrams and its integration

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8 September 2003 / Vol. 11, No. 18 / OPTICS EXPRESS 2181

Fig. 4. Surface topography obtained with a commercial Fizeau interferometer.

It is appropriate to mention that although numerically agreement was good, the integration
procedure we have used smoothed the wavefront shape. This smoothing process is better seen
in Figs. 5(a) and 5(b), where Figs. 3 and 4 were converted into fringes digitally.



Fig. 5. Interferometric fringes representation of Figs. 3 and 4. (a) From Ronchi results. (b)
From Fizeau results.

5. Conclusions
A method to evaluate flat surfaces by means of a grazing configuration of an LCD Ronchi test
has been described. The liquid crystal display was used as a grating and a phase shifting
device. Even that under a grazing configuration the sensitivity of the test is reduced by a factor
of 6 or more we have obtained experimental results similar to those obtained with a
commercial Fizeau interferometer under normal configuration. We believe that the main
differences rest on the least squared integration method that we used which smoothed the
calculated surface.
The authors would like to thank Mr. Jos de la Luz Hurtado for their contributions to the
developments of this work. Mr. Mora would like also to acknowledge the financial support
from Centro de Investigaciones en ptica, Mxico.

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Received August 12, 2003; Revised August 24, 2003

8 September 2003 / Vol. 11, No. 18 / OPTICS EXPRESS 2182