Optical scatterometer

Project number: 
Ball Aerospace
Academic year: 
Light scatters differently as it interacts with varying surface properties. Scattered light poses a problem for optical applications as it contributes to undesired stray light reaching the focal plane of a system. Understanding how light scatters helps predict stray light paths and prevents them from compromising system performance. To further this goal, the team designed an inexpensive optical scatterometer to measure the light scattering properties of a material.

The device shines a laser through an optical system which outputs a converging chopped beam onto a test sample and accurately measures the scattered power emitted as a function of angle in the plane of incidence. The focused spot is incident on a high-sensitivity detector, processed through a variable-gain transimpedance amplifier built from scratch, with noise reduction utilizing a lock-in amplifier. Recorded data are then plotted as a bidirectional scattering distribution function (BSDF). The BSDF characterizes the scatter distribution of optical radiation from the test surface, facilitating the analysis and mitigation of stray light in the system.

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