Evaluation of the thermal stability of a low-coherence interferometer for precision surface profilometry
Manufacturing of precise structures in MEMS, semiconductors, optics and other fields requires high standards in manufacturing and quality control. Appropriate surface topography measurement technologies should therefore deliver nm accuracy in the axial dimension under typical industrial conditions. This work shows the characterization of a dispersion-encoded low-coherence interferometer for the purpose of fast and robust surface topography measurements. The key component of the interferometer is an element with known dispersion. This dispersive element delivers a controlled phase variation in relation to the surface height variation which can be detected in the spectral domain. A laboratory setup equipped with a broadband light source (200 - 1100 nm) was established. Experiments have been carried out on a silicon-based standard with height steps of 100 nm under different thermal conditions such as 293.15 K and 303.15 K. Additionally, the stability of the setup was studied over periods of 5 hours (with constant temperature) and 15 hours (with linear increasing temperature). The analyzed data showed that a height measurement of 97:99 +/- 4:9nm for 293.15 K and of 101:43 +/- 3:3nm for 303.15 K was possible. The time-resolved measurements revealed that the developed setup is highly stable against small thermal fluctuations and shows a linear behaviour under increasing thermal load. Calibration data for the mathmatical corrections under different thermal conditions was obtained.