Creation and Experimental Validation of a Numerical Model of a Michelson Interferometer
Stancil, Maurice Marcus
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The study whose results are presented here was carried out in support of an ongoing larger effort to investigate and understand the impact of coherence and polarization on the performance of instruments intended to monitor the Earth's radiant energy budget. The visibility of fringes produced by a Michelson interferometer is known to be sensitive to the degree to which the incident light beam is monochromatic. Therefore, the Michelson interferometer has significant potential as a tool for quantifying the degree of temporal coherence of a quasi-monochromatic light beam. Simulation of the performance of an optical instrument using the Monte-Carlo ray-trace (MCRT) method has been shown to be an efficient method for transferring knowledge of the coherence state of a beam of light from one instrument to another. The goal of the effort reported here is to create and experimentally validate an MCRT model for the optical performance of a Michelson interferometer. The effort is motivated by the need to consolidate the knowledge and skills of the investigator in the realm of physical optics, and by the need to make a useful analytical tool available to other investigators in the larger effort.
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