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Instruction Manual and

Experiment Guide

FIZ457E
OPTICS I

COHERENCE AND WIDTH OF SPECTRAL
LINES WITH MICHELSON INTERFEROMETER

Istanbul Technical University
Physics Engineering Department

The human eye averages these results and perceives a uniform intensity of light. in general. When two or more beams of light meet in space. If each beam of light originates from a separate source. 525 nm Ground-glass screen 50×50 mm Diaphragm holder. Since there is no fixed relationship between the oscillations. attachable Measuring magnifier Slit. The Michelson Interferometer The Michelson Interferometer is historically important. l = 100 cm Base for optical profile bench Slide mount. h = 30 mm Lens holder Object holder 50×50 mm Swingin arm Barrel base -PASS- Stand tube Mounted lens f = 20 mm Mounted lens f = 200 mm Iris diaphragm Coloured filter. Equipment Michelson Interferometer High pressure mercury vapour lamp CS 50 W Power supply for Hg-CS/50 W Lamp Optical profile bench. these fields add according to the principle of superposition. If the beams of 2 . Principle There are. 1. At any instant in time there will be points in space where the fields add to produce a maximum field strength.1. a point at which there is a maximum at one instant may have a minimum at the next instant. Each part is made to travel a different path and brought back together where they interfere according to their path length difference. there is generally no fixed relationship between the electromagnetic oscillations in the beams. adjustable up to 1 mm Diaphragm with 4 double slits Theory of Operation Interference Theory A beam of light can be modeled as a wave of oscillating electric and magnetic fields. However. green. because minute scratches can impair the clarity of the interference image. That is. at each point in space. The Michelson interferometer causes interference by splitting a beam of light into two parts.Michelson Interferometer Introduction CAUTION: Avoid touching all optical surfaces on the interferometer. 1. Students can measure the wavelength of light and coherence length and time. the oscillations of visible light are far faster than the human eye can apprehend. a number of types of optical instruments that produce optical interference. and also provides a simple interferometric configuration for introducing basic principles. the electric and magnetic fields are determined as the vector sum of the fields of the separate beams. These instruments are grouped under the generic name of interferometers.

the combined field will always be a maximum and a bright spot will be seen. A. Figure 1: Michelson Interferometer 3 . He allowed a single. and for investigating optical media. Originally Michelson designed his interferometer as a means to test for the existence of the ether. Conversely. the spacing of the maxima and minima can be used to determine the wavelength of the light.s experiment offered important evidence for the wave nature of light. Opposite the slits he placed a viewing screen. for using the wavelength of a known light source to measure extremely small distances. Both mirrors reflect the light directly back toward the beam-splitter. closely spaced slits. Young. a regular pattern of dark and bright bands appeared. Michelson designed and built an interferometer using a similar principle. At another point the light from the beams may be continually out of phase and a minima. one beam is transmitted toward the movable mirror the other is reflected toward the fixed. The incident beam is therefore split into two beams. At one point in space the light from the beams may be continually in phase. Due in part to his efforts.s interferometer has become a widely used instrument for measuring the wavelength of light. Thomas Young was one of the first to design a method for producing such an interference pattern. the spacing of the slits could be determined from the interference patterns. there is generally some degree of correlation between the frequency and phase of the oscillations. 78 years after Young introduced his two-slit experiment. or dark spot.Michelson Interferometer light originate from the same source. The beam of light from the light strikes the beamsplitter. When first performed. Young. The Michelson Interferometer In 1881. Michelson. which reflects 50% of the incident light and transmits the other 50%.s slits can be used as a simple interferometer. Where the light from the two slits struck the screen. But beyond this. Figure 1 shows a diagram of a Michelson interferometer. if the wavelength of the light is known. will be seen. the ether is no longer considered a viable hypothesis. narrow beam of light to fall on two narrow. In this case. Half the light from movable mirror is reflected from the beam splitter to the viewing screen and half the light from adjustable mirror is transmitted through the beam-splitter to the viewing screen. a hypothesized medium in which light propagated. If the spacing between the slits is known.A.

the number of times the fringe pattern is restored to its original state. depends on the difference in the length of their optical paths in reaching that point. By moving M1. If the characteristics of the light source are accurately known (wavelength. The interference pattern will change.Michelson Interferometer In this way the original beam of light is split. Corresponding coherence time ? can be find using the equation. changes in the beam path can be introduced 4 . Since the beams are from the same source. and an interference pattern of dark and bright rings. moving M1 1/4 wavelength nearer the beam splitter will reduce the optical path of that beam by 1/2 wavelength. the wavelength of the light (λ) can be calculated as: ?= 2? ? (1) The coherence length can be estimated experimentally by measuring the optical path difference (Δ = 2?) at the point where the fringes become invisible. they were initially in phase. the path length of one of the beams can be varied. and portions of the resulting beams are brought back together. their phases are highly correlated. Their relative phase when they meet at any point on the viewing screen. or fringes. intensity). The coherence length is. the radii of the maxima will again be reduced so maxima and minima trade positions. is seen on the viewing screen (Figure 2). therefore. ?=∆ (2) ?20 ?= Δ? (3) Another definition of the coherence length is. When a lens is placed between the light source and the beam-splitter. but this new arrangement will be indistinguishable from the original pattern. an interferometer can be used in two ways. and counting n. If M1 is moved an additional 1/4 wavelength closer to the beam-splitter. By slowly moving the mirror a measured distance D. ?= ? ? (4) Setup and Procedure Figure 3 shows the experimental set-up to determine the wavelength and coherence length and time of a light source. the light ray spreads out. Since the beam traverses the path between M1 and the beam-splitter twice. Since the two interfering beams of light were split from the same initial beam. If both the coherence length L and the wavelength centre ?0 are known. the radii of the maxima will be reduced so they now occupy the position of the former minima. the line width Δ? can be calculated according to (3). polarization. In general.

2 on the screen. 6. 5. The distance between the carrying plate of the interferometer and the lens should be about 16 cm. the two light spots observed on the screen should be brought to complete covarge. 10. Place the half opened iris diaphragm directly before the light exit tube of the Hg lamp Place the lens (? = 20 mm) and the green filter about 30 cm from the iris diaphragm. 2. Continue until some predetermined number of fringes have passed your mark (count at least 20 fringes). 3. After observing the interference pattern on the screen. information can be obtained about the light source that is being used. the interference pattern can be observed in concentric shape like Fig. using the two adjusting screws at the back of the adjuatable mirror. 5 . To start with. Rotate the micrometer knob slowly counterclockwise. Place the glass screen perpendicularly to the direction of the incident beam. Place the ? = 200 mm lens which will be helpful for observing the interference pattern. Adjust the X-Y position of the light until the beam is reflected from the movable mirror and adjustable mirror properly. by introducing specific changes in the beam path. Count the fringes as they pass your reference mark. As you finish your count. rotate the micrometer knob slowly counterclockwise and count the fringes as they pass your reference mark. 1. Figure 3: Experimental set-up to determine the wavelength and coherence length and time of a light source. right after the screen.Michelson Interferometer and the effects on the interference pattern can be analyzed. 4. the fringes should be in the same position with respect to your reference mark as they were when you started to count. Record the final reading of the micrometer dial. 9. 7. Through sensitive adjustment of the corresponding screws and position of the movable mirror. 8. On the other hand.

In the calculation to determine the value of l based on the micrometer movement. compare your results with the known value. Find the corresponding errors for wavelength of the light source. recording your results each time. Repeat steps 9 through 12 several times. why was D multiplied by two? 2.Michelson Interferometer 11. to what do you attribute it? 4. If the wavelength of your light source is accurately known. When measuring mirror movement using the micrometer dial on the interferometer. 13. then average your results. the number of fringe transitions that you counted. what factors might limit the accuracy of your measurement? 6 . Questions 1. the distance that the movable mirror moved toward the beam-splitter according to your readings of the micrometer knob. When measuring mirror movement by counting fringes using a light source of known wavelength. Why move the mirror through many fringe transitions instead of just one? Why take several measurements and average the results? 3. If there is a difference. 15. Record D. (Each line on the rotating vernier scale of micrometer moves the mirror about 1 µm) 12. 14. calculate the wavelength of the light using the equation (1). Record n. what factors limit the accuracy of your measurement? 5. (literature value: λ (Hg-green) = 546 nm). For each trial.